This quote, from W.B. Yeats’ The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore, is the launch point for the latest Petrels album and serves as an overture. Oliver Barrett is a storyteller, communicating his tales through string, drone and elongated tone. If the earth is only “A Little Dust”, then the opening track seems to say: Waste no time. Tell tales. Jörð is the artist’s return to ancient mythology, stepping back from the speculative sci-fi visions of Flailing Tomb, and its interconnected tales operate as an anthology.
Jörð is the Norse goddess who personifies the earth and gives birth to Thor. The cover depicts a sleeping giant, perhaps forgotten, perhaps only resting; time passes differently for immortals. To such beings, land belongs to no one and to all: “Terra Nullius.” The earth beneath our feet is simply earth, the rolling drums a reflection of the rolling hills, the woodwinds providing voice to the breeze, the lyrics rising like prayers. The forest spirit “Waldgeist” flickers and dances and mourns, sending urgent signals across the plains to “The Long Man” of Wilmington: come quickly, friend. Come to our aid. Our sister has fallen asleep. The music imagines the Long Man stretching, beginning his strides, the goddess hearing his footsteps, softly opening her eyes. And what then? Will man be but a glimmer of a memory when the old gods awaken?
When “The Last Shard Falls”, is it the shard of hope, the shard of conflict, the shard of illusion? Synthesized squeals and squalls battle for dominance in a digital field. The track hearkens back to Haeligewielle‘s “Canute”, as does the closer, “Seithenyn Sleeps”. Waves of sound advance, clutching the sand for traction, until they flow over the banks of the sonic field. As in “Canute”, the sound is intentional ~ in Welsh folklore, Seithenyn is charged with protecting the realm of Gwyddno from the encroachment and corrosion of the sea. Yet he chooses to ignore the danger, drowning wariness in liquor and sleep. When the ocean inevitably claims its own, a reputation is ruined and a kingdom is lost; below the sea, the bells of the drowned churches still toll. “Seithernyn Sleeps” is an aural reflection of these bells and of Yeats’ words. The tale is still being told. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 23 September