Great Raven

Great Raven – Magnetic Smoke – (NGland Records)

When Great Raven‘s debut LP Magnetic Smoke came through the letter box, complete with hand folded origami original artwork, I was intrigued. Reading the blurb that came with it, it was described as a concept album of sorts – realized out of the frustration for songs being overlong – having “a short attention span and the idea of making a point swiftly.” Now that is my kind of LP! Having been a fan of Guided by Voices, Robert Pollard and hardcore punk for several years, I have grown to love the short song format. It gets to the point!

However, this 10 track LP (just shy of 20 minutes long) may be short, but it is big and ambitious. It takes in free form jazz, field recordings, looping, electronica and traditional multi-instrumentation.

Great Raven (aka Daisy Temple and Antronhy (Bivouac) have crafted a collection of songs that fit together perfectly, but which on their own would sound like disparate collages. At times they spasm, and other times they brood. But together, they create such a lovely piece of art.

Opener ‘21st of the 6th‘ is a haunting sample of a stuck voice, that sounds like a daily wake up message to an abandoned space station which is slowly and quietly plummeting towards a distant planet with no survivors.

Rabbit’s Foot‘ follows and Temple’s vocals sound like she is testing her own voice after only just getting the ability to speak. It’s only after a minute that you realise she is saying actual words. On top of that you have a loop of birdsong and a throbbing synth. Next up you have a full on double bass and xylophone minimalist jazz interlude that brings us just over one third of the way through, what the band call, “a story of a person’s every changing disposition over one day”. That day being the 21st June, Summer Solstice.

Further on you get ‘Dream Echo‘ which is exactly that, 1.46 of synths that conjure up the feeling of space flight or the free fall through the ether. This intense electronica is very reminiscent of Four Tet or John Murphy’s sc-fi soundtrack work. ‘Pipiano‘ quickly follows with its haunting piano and sax interlude that sounds like the piano has been recorded very lo-fi and over dubbed.

Tracks like ‘Sea Sleep‘ stand out as great field recordings and experimental vocals. And often one or two tracks remind one of Penguin Café Orchestra or the afore mentioned Four Tet.

Magnetic Smoke seems to be the fruits of two artists who aren’t afraid to experiment, and I think they have accomplished something very special. Something that you don’t hear or experience every day. And they certainly are the reason that I look forward to CDs plopping onto my door mat or my Inbox pinging. Lovely stuff.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.