of the 'Margin' album:
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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."
Ricci, Touching Extremes
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.
Leonard, Leonard's Lair
set of reviews ('Capsize')
to main page