Instrumental music is a tricky one for me. I am very much not an intellectual when it comes to listening to music, and you’ll never rarely hear me overanalysing something because in general I don’t have the tools to do it – I certainly don’t have the vocabulary of serious musical analysis, that’s for sure.
Basically, as regular readers of the blog will know, I operate on the basis of ‘I like this and this is why I think I do’. Sometimes though, particularly with instrumental stuff, I can find I like something because it has the right sort of sound and I’ve stopped paying attention halfway through and kind of assumed it was good, then I listen back a while later and find it really hasn’t managed to hold my attention in the long run. And that’s why I’ve waited so long to actually write about this album.
In terms of ‘sounds which Toad enjoys’ it’s right there. A lot of plucked acoustic guitars complemented by deep, ominous rumblings of cello and other droney instruments. It’s a bloody great counterpoint, and just as an overall observation, the general sound and tone of the album is absolutely gorgeous. It is the shimmering, beautiful soundtrack to a movie you can only imagine, and actually it does a pretty fine job of making you imagine it. Even the cover itself seems more like a movie still than album artwork.
It reminds me, actually, of the score British Sea Power composed for Man of Aran, not musically, but very much in the sense that this music would fit that film beautifully (preview on YouTube – buy a copy). Although maybe that was rather planted in my mind by the cover photograph. It still works though!
I suppose when there are no lyrics the overall pacing and rise and fall of the mood become ever-more important, and Seabuckthorn (which I think is more or less just the stage name of a guy called Andy Cartwright) manage that really well. This music can be quite ambient and peaceful, but there is a dark sense of brooding throughout which can either recede into mere atmospherics or push its way to the fore, bringing with it a sense of malevolence and tension which is genuinely gripping.
The vinyl has just arrived too, after months of delays, so if you order one now it should turn up fairly promptly. And boy does it look pretty!