Craven Faults ~ Netherfield Works / Springhead Works / Nunroyd Works

Three years, three 12″ records, a trilogy now complete.  Craven Faults has been scribing a sonic travelogue in turquoise and silver, an impression of Yorkshire and beyond, informed by memories imagined and recalled.  There’s an air of mystery around the artist, seen in shadow and silhouette.  The videos are foggy, layered, open to interpretation.  More questions are asked than answered: “How did we get here?  (Is this) a lost cause?  The end of a journey?”  Listeners are encouraged to “travel without purpose, listen without distraction, lose (themselves) completely.”  The music is a perfect aid to such ventures, undulating, flowing.  Most pieces reach the quarter hour mark.  One can imagine a long train ride, staring out the window, no phone in hand.  The images, framed by the windows, begin to blur.

Do we actually need answers?  We can hear the rail at the start of “Eller Ghyll,” whose title refers to a textile mill in West Yorkshire.  In the blue-toned video, we experience a sense of forward motion, the baseball-like blur an (unintentional) reminder of Thomas the Tank Engine.  Synths develop over water, another left-field juxtaposition.  The sprightly tone is quintessential Britain, a hopeful dollop reminiscent of an earlier time, perhaps the Summer of Love, perhaps the invention of Day-Glo.  The details are not important, but the feeling is.  Have we lost ourselves?  If so, can we find ourselves again?  After thirteen minutes, the music relaxes, the blue recedes, and black and white enter like clarity.  In contrast, “Tenter Ground” is slower, rock-inflected and primarily green with a hint of mollusk purple, casting a connection to the weavers and textile workers of the 17th century, stretching their wares beneath an oppressive sun.  We see pants and other patterns.  This time, black and white ride a rising drone and eventually tie another knot, more binary than organic.

What do we see when we look back?  What do we learn?

“Progress.  At what cost?”  These words grace Springhead Works, where light aqua gives way to rust until it seems extinguished, only to reappear.  “Intakes” is architectural in form and reflects a newer way of life.  The video is charmingly simple and slightly blurred, reminiscent of X-Mix.  When the end returns to the beginning, we think, the old ways can still be salvaged.  “Ings” (which may refer to the footballer) follows the template of “Tenter Ground” by adding a psychedelic undercurrent.

And finally, Nunroyd Works.  “We enter the outskirts of the city,” writes Craven Faults.  “The former mills and cinemas are alive.”  The palette has gone full purple.  In “Engine Fields,” the timbre is part industrial, albeit with piano; we have reached the present day.  Everything is just a little bit busier, although the video is not at all distracted.  “Dye and Size” yields some of the clearest, fattest synths of the entire project.  Meditative chords decorate the second half, as if to lead the listener to a higher plane.  Isn’t this what the journey is about?  To travel from earth to heaven, if only via imagination?

The bell tones slow and finally stop.  We disembark at “Foddergang,” referring to the field barns of Yorkshire, bringing the trip full circle.  In one sense, we’ve ended up where we began.  In another, we’ve gained essential perspective.  Look what we’ve survived!  See how we’ve endured!  Read the answers in the fields and houses, in the histories and tales.  The artist’s patch cables connect not only to panels, but to years.  (Richard Allen)

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