Peter Talisman - Lord of the Harvest (DMY)

Peter Talisman – Lord of the Harvest (DMY)

In a world of conventional releases it’s nice when someone does something different. That someone is Peter Talisman. For the release of his debut album, Lord of the Harvest, Talisman decided to make a concept album about harvesting a field of wheat. Finding standing stones and going off on an adventure. Well, technically, Peter Talisman is the brainchild of Slugabed and Sam Organ (The Physics House Band), so this should come as no surprise. What is surprising is how astonishingly luscious the music actually is.

Lord of the Harvest is part listening experience and part game. The game exists here, but if you aren’t a gamer, or have an afternoon to spare, let me break it down for you. The game itself is a mixture of Age of Empires and Farming Simulator 20. At the start of the game you, Peter Talisman, are harvesting your wheat. You bump into a friend, Arthur Portal-Dolmen, who mentions an “old, old monument hidden betwixt the crop”. Peter than offers to cut a path to it for Arthur. While this happens the opening track of the album plays. When you reach the monument, and click on it, the next track on the album plays and you are given the next challenge\song. As the game progresses you have to cut more wheat. The more you cut, the more people you can hire. The more you hire the more you cut. The more you cut you can buy bigger baskets and faster shoes you can buy. Eventually you can create donkeys to help with the work. With each monument you find, the more songs you get. It’s pretty straightforward and addictive. Much like the thousands of app games that involve little skill but a lot of perseverance. It reminds me of collecting flowers in Red Dead Redemption. It felts great to get 100% completed on the game, but when explaining to a friend in a pub in the evening how I spent a day off didn’t quite give the feeling inside I wanted.

Of course, you don’t need to play the game to enjoy the album, and this is where the music comes in. Spending the time listening to the album while orchestrating a full-scale harvest operation does work incredibly well. The music has a folktronica quality to it. Acoustic guitars stutter, and glitch, as the ethereal synths and low tempo beats smooth out the bifurcated mood. It really works well with completing low-risk tasks. Cutting crops, doing the washing up, stretching your legs on a lunch break or soundtracking your working day. There are no sudden jumps, and everything flows past pleasantly. Creating pastoral vibes. What really makes the album work is the titles. Each one tells the story in Talisman and Portal-Dolmen’s tale ‘A Life-Changing Discovery’, ‘We Have to Leave this town Because I Have Done Something Unforgivable’, ‘Haha Fucking QUEST’, ‘Welcome Home Peter Talisman, all is Forgiven’ and ‘Rest Easy’. They tell the story without having to play the game, but when they flash across the screen it does tap into the analogue beauty of a Fighting Fantasy gamebook or a BBC Acorn adventure game.

What Lord of the Harvest really showcases is Slugabed and Organ’s imagination and musical prowess. Over the years both musicians have pushed themselves, and their listeners, to evolve out of a pedestrian, mainstream, kind of music. It has the right motifs to get you moving, but also gets you pondering its deeper meaning. This is all present on Lord of the Harvest. ‘Ley U Down’ has a glorious low-key beat, but the guitarwork, and skewed vocals, hint at something deeper. This is an album to get engaged with, regardless of whether you play the game or not. Whether this will be the last Peter Talisman album will remain to be seen. If there is another, will it also be accompanied by another instalment in the story, but if this is the only album then Slugabed and Organ have delivered something to think about until the next harvest festival.

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.