Wednesday, July 06, 2011


My last encounter with Enraptured Records was Eat Lights Become Lights excellent “Autopia” album in March. Released this week on the same label is an EP from Land Observations aka James Brooks, previously one-third of post-rock minimalists Appliance. For this EP, a sampler from the forthcoming album of songs all inspired by the major Roman roads that criss-crossed Britain & Europe, Brooks creates beguiling simple motorik rhythms out of layered guitar. Now if Eat Lights Become Lights is a pulsing, nocturnal ride through the urban dystopia, complete with electronic textures and juddering drums, the motorik of Land Observations creates the opposite effect. This trio of songs are bucolic simplicity itself delivered with a soothing delicacy of touch.

Two of the three songs on the single, ‘Viae (in C major)’ and ‘Octavian to Augustus’ adopt a similar approach: tense plucked rhythms with more languid and dreamy guitar over the top. The differentiation is subtle between these two but ‘Fosse Way (Fragmented)’ is a noticeably more drowsy and contemplative affair. Although there is repetition to their meticulous construction, rather than those sturdy (and perpendicular) feats of Roman engineering, these songs make me think more of the natural world in those times, of green fields, chalk horses, untamed hedgerows and empty skies: more pagan joy than imperialist perfection.

Brooks, also a visual artist, is creating a photographic archive of “land mass, surface area, thresholds and boundaries” to accompany the full Roman Roads projects. Maybe this imagery will set me right on what I hear in Land Observations. But for the present, truly, ignorance is bliss. The "Roman Roads" EP is available digitally or as a limited edition, numbered pressing on coloured 7” vinyl with hand-finished sleeve art by Brooks.

Land Observations - Viae (in C Major) - edit by Type PR

Full versions of all three tracks are also on Spotify.

Land Observations Roman Roads EP [BUY]

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