Reviews of the 'Margin' album:


"There's a gentler side to all of us, I think. Sometimes it manifests itself in our actions and other times it comes across in our choice of music. The softer side of the minimalistic Electronica / organic scene is something that I'm extremely keen on, as some of you will probably know, and it's with a great deal of pleasure that we can bring you this superb album from Jasper Leyland on Mole Harness's Stray Dog Army label. Put together with a keen attention to detail, the tracks on this CD are beautifully layered and structured slices of manipulated guitar and electronic music. There are, at times, shades of the work of influential artists such as Taylor Deupree, Minamo or Greg Davis, but the tracks always retain their own flavour throughout. Hypnotic and fragile loops of sound wind their way through each piece and the subtle shifts in tone really work a treat. It's ambient, yes, but with such an engaging feel that it never, ever feels bland or soulless... quite the contrary, actually as there's a genuine warmth and emotion here that's aching to get out and take hold of the listener. A very talented young man indeed, then, and an album that comes highly recommended. Wonderful stuff."

Mike Oliver, Smallfish



"Margin, the debut album by Jasper Leyland (aka Norwich-based Jonathan Brewster) features richly detailed drone explorations constructed from field elements, electronic, and acoustic elements. Though its five tracks are variously short and long, the album registers as an extended and accomplished whole despite the presence of transitions between pieces.

Created entirely from zither sounds, “Margin” immediately establishes the album's meditative-drone ambiance with its slowly developing mass of naturalistic rustles, plucks, and field noises, a prelude to the first epic “Riseholme.” At the outset, a piercing tone snakes through a dense bed of rustling haze and crackle, then recedes to let acoustic strums move to the forefront. The elements congeal into a restless droning mass of plucks and smears until, midway through, Brewster removes layers, exposing the wavering simmer of processed melodica, before elements again accumulate into a crackling mass. “Riseholme” demonstrates Brewster's skill at convincingly sustaining a work's delicate balance throughout a sixteen-minute duration. Though less epic, the central “Lapse” makes a strong impression by weaving glistening synth pulsations and staccato plucks into a cathedralesque mass. “Turned” is so brief as to seem incidental amidst the more ambitious pieces and is more notable for the manner of its construction, with some of its noises originating at a Norfolk beach where Brewster buried a microphone in pebbles and recorded the results. The electric guitar focus of the second extended piece, “Prospect,” calls Christopher Willits' work to mind, with Brewster transforming clicks and ripples into a meditative sunrise of bell tones.

Available in a mere 150-copy run, Margin impresses as a distinguished collection of subtly textured drone works, with Brewster proving himself a deft sculptor of organic and processed sounds."

Ron Schepper, Textura



"It's difficult to pin-point exactly what Jasper Leyland [aka Jonathan Brewster] is attempting to pen on his debut release, other than to say, the guy adores drones. Luckily, I do too, so being fair with his music is difficult. Minimal in extreme sense of the word, Jasper manipulates guitars, percussion and synths to his benefit in order to come up with these stark and barren landscapes that float in mid-air. Literally all of the music on this release is constantly in a state of rest, as it is in a state of constant, though barely audible motion. Movements develop slowly - from the gentlest ticking of bells to processed sound of what appears to be water drop - everything is done at a turtle's pace. Even the crackling of radio static at the beginning of "Riseholme" is refreshingly slow to get going. Gentle hums of feedback and reverberating acoustic [and electric] guitars are constantly heard but what's most crucial is the apparent organic quality. For some unspoken reason, even though machines were involved in producing the record, every sound that ends up on the record sounds as if it were plausibly found in nature. Structurally dense and pulsing with great sonic ideas, "Margin" is a calming little release that is guaranteed to put your head in a constant state of loop."

Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta


Touching Extremes:

"From Norwich, England comes Jonathan Brewster with a surprisingly effective disc under the Jasper Leyland moniker. With just a few means and rather intelligent compositional skills, "Margin" manages to outshine many lavishly produced albums where microsounds often seem to have been deployed by microbrains. Brewster assembled various instruments (especially guitars, gently strummed and/or looped in exquisite fashion) and a little bit of field recordings and electronics to release a statement which is concise and straight to the point, as the five tracks comprised by this CD are oriented to a heartwarming - at times delightful - organic minimalism that finds its best expression in the cinematic "Riseholme" and in the truly gorgeous resonant waves of the final "Prospect". To add another compliment, this is a rare case of music that works well in every setting: I tried it by headphones first, discovering a whole subterranean activity of hisses, clicks and cicadas accompanying the basic constructions of the tracks; then I played "Margin" at low volume in my room, which almost instantly returned the favour with warm reverberations and almost joyful contributions from those whitewashed walls that usually accept much worse offences from yours truly; but they looked even brighter this time."

Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes


Leonard's Lair:

Earlier this year the Stray Dog Army label brought us an album from Mole Harness; a supremely well crafted and accessible exercise in guitar and electronic melody. Next up is Jasper Leyland (or Jonathan Brewster to his friends and family) who is tantalisingly described as a "sound explorer". True to this claim, Brewster sculptures ambient pieces based largely on drone and acoustic material. No surprise then that its experimental nature will not necessarily satisfy Mole Harness fans. However, the addition of field recordings lends these tracks a human, organic feel that draws parallels to late-period Talk Talk. The two key tracks are 'Riseholme' abd 'Prospect'; the former is like a haunting soundtrack for being lost in the woods whilst the latter is a work of hypnotic dreaminess. Whichever way you view 'Margin', it's a record which grows in stature with each listen.

Jonathan Leonard, Leonard's Lair


Next set of reviews ('Capsize')

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