With a name like Cormac Faulkner, it’s no surprise that the Coventry artist displays a literary bent. The rare lyrics found on Topophilia include a quote from Joyce and a song based on a centuries-old broadside. Earlier this year, the artist teamed up with Ian Kinsella as Tailor and the Crow to create the vinyl To This I Will Declare, which placed adapted lyrics from traditional folk songs within modern drone settings.
The surprise is instead that Faulker’s solo interests are even broader. Topophilia displays a love of landscape akin to that of Richard Skelton, while delivering a fine blend of folk, field recording and drone. Stick with “St. Catherine’s Well” past the first three minutes and one will discover its true literal and literary depth; the track begins with the broadside, then descends into the dual well of water and emotional murk. “Coffin Walk” was recorded with contact mics on the wire fences of Warwickshire, along the path taken by remote villagers to bury their dead. In this instance, the closing nursery rhyme serves as a sombre coda. It’s clear that the artist feels a connection to his surroundings and their history. Whether recording in a specific setting (“Tunnel Kunitoki”) or honoring his ancestors (“Soprani”, incorporating the sound of his grandfather’s accordion and transistor radio), Faulker blurs the boundaries between past and present, fauna and flora.
The sounds are immensely appealing, as the artist frequently shifts textures between and within tracks. “Coffin Walk” contains three distinct sections: the walk (field recording plus ambience), the emotion (an storm of intense drone) and the aforementioned rhyme. “Tunnel Kunitoki” contains shruti box and drip, while “Of his bones are coral made” concentrates more on the sound of ocean than on death, producing a sense of inevitability. In less certain hands, the blend of elements might come across as a hodgepodge; in Faulkner’s hands, they help one to appreciate the inextricable relationships formed between human beings and their environments. (Richard Allen)