The first 18 seconds sound like a voyage, or a goodbye. Waves lap; hulls creak; a quiet bird seems to cry. Paul Elam (Fieldhead) recently left the moors of Leeds for the wider expanses of Canada, and a correction is his document of change. The static percussion of the title track imitates the sound of footsteps through tall grass before moving into a more dynamic form. As the rapid transition occurs, active keys and drums enter the mix, announcing the arrival of a new artistic phase. Then at 1:31, a complete half-second stop, a dividing line between old and new, a pause before the plunge. Elaine Reynolds’ violin enters like a balm to ease the continental transition. The irony is not lost here; the violinist’s core affiliation is with The Boats, and an expanse of water separates old home from new.
Moving from moors and towns to mountains and trails is a huge change, perhaps best described as the (literal) widening of horizons. Elam has expanded his compositional horizons on this album as well, drawing from an expanded tonal palette. This collaboration is effective not because Reynolds carries the tunes, but because her work is integrated within them, like thoughts coalescing to form a theory. Elam varies the volume of the violin as Reynolds varies its texture; this tonal contrast allows his own pops, knocks and sonic detritus to nudge forward or fall back, depending on the occasion. When both play as one, the effect is magical: consider the surge from 1:22 to 1:52 of “neon, ugly”, again preceded by a sudden stop and repeated in modified form beginning at 2:14. Take in the near-perfect blend of “stolen”. Or wait until the finale to catch the melodic red level rush of “northern canada”, the track that best represents the new Fieldhead sound.
Witness now the cover’s blue expanse, the lone figure forging a path in the snow, cloak billowing in the wind. Tilt the image and one can see maps and capillaries. Often the path is obscured until seen from a different angle. a correction is Elam’s bold excursion into the unknown: the shifting territory of unpredictable tones. The sole consolation, and the heart of the album, is that Elam is no longer traveling alone; Reynolds’ notes wrap around him like letters from his old home. A new location, a new inspiration: old and new are mixed to form a project with renewed allure. (Richard Allen)
Release date: October 22