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-  Label: 'A Year In The Country'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '8th August 2017'-  Catalogue No: 'A001OUD'

Our Rating:
There's no public face or big ego behind A Year In The Country (AYITC).

The name refers to a record label, a series of brilliantly crafted compilations (or "audiological case studies") and a fascinating online resource of hauntologically themed articles (or "spectral histories").

AYITC is also is the chosen ID of a solo musician and it is in this guise that we find Undercurrents, a noise/ambient work with weird folk leanings described in typically enigmatic language as "a wandering amongst nature, electronic soundscapes and field recordings".

The anonymity and mystery are key elements of the project, allowing the listener to build mental images with only track titles a rudimentary reference points.

The album comes in Dawn or a Night editions, the latter being a hand-finished box set limited to 104 copies and including a 12 page string bound booklet.

For practical purposes the music is distributed in a Cdr format but the philosophy and approach is resolutely at odds with the sanitized perfection of our digitalized age.

The situationist concept of the dérive, or drift, is, for me, a helpful means to get some form of handle on this work. First coined by Guy Debord, this word referred to a means of spontaneously exploring mainly urban landscapes although there's no reason why it can't also be applied to rural settings.

Listening to Undercurrents is like being drawn away from well-marked pathways with no clues as to where they might lead. AYITC's music therefore provides a kind of psychogeography of the countryside.

One piece is paradoxically named A Pastoral Playground despite being anything but joyful; it is one of several pieces that would work perfectly as sinister preludes to dark happenings on the soundtrack to a horror movie.

Dreamscapes Of Old is a title that fits the mood better and if I was pressed for a single adjective to describe these tracks, or ,indeed, the album as a whole, I'd opt for 'spooky'.

The nine minutes of Drifting Parts I-IV forms just under a quarter of the playing time - meandering and murky in feel, it's like an audio warning to be prepared for some big surprises if you go down to the woods today.

A Year In The Country's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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A YEAR IN THE COUNTRY - Undercurrents