Review: A Broken Consort - Box of Birch (2007)


artist: A Broken Con­sort
release: Box of Birch
format: 2×3″ CD-R, CD-R
year of release: 2007
label: Sustain-Release
dur­a­tion: 37:19

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

A Broken Con­sort is one of the pro­jects by Eng­lish­man Richard Skelton on his own Sustain-Release label. The first album, The Shape Leaves, was released in 2006 and intro­duced us to the rich organic freefolk sounds of the pro­ject. Box of Birch elab­or­ates fur­ther on this style with four new tracks.

One of the greatest things about Sustain-Release albums is the per­sonal atten­tion paid to the lay­out and present­a­tion. The extremely lim­ited first edi­tion of this album was presen­ted as a double (sil­ver and black) 3″ CD-R in a box. This second edi­tion is a single reg­u­lar CD-R, in a prin­ted car­ton sleeve, wrapped in trans­lu­cent paper along with a little info sheet and a birch leaf to com­plete the theme. Alto­gether quite won­der­ful!

The music con­sists of long-spun acous­tic sound­scapes - drones and melodic repe­ti­tions, but with a great depth of sound. Most prom­in­ent are gui­tars, per­cus­sion, and vari­ous other bowed and strummed strings. The res­ult is at the same time famil­iar, rooted in the earth, but also far from every­day exper­i­ence. A won­der­ful musical depic­tion of the mys­tic depths con­tained in nat­ural land­scapes with only a hint of cul­tiv­a­tion.

The first two tracks explore the basic instru­mentarium men­tioned above, but “Some­thing Fell” intro­duces del­ic­ate touches of piano. The final, shortest track is more prom­in­ently ruled by a beau­ti­ful, sad string melody. There is a pro­found mourn­ing in “The Elder Lie”, and it’s hard not to be touched by it.

Box of Birch is an excel­lent album, not in the way of vari­ation, but in pure wealth of sound. These are warm acous­tic sound­scapes that take you briefly into Richard’s musical realm, a place I’m always reluct­ant to leave. More please!

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. A Sun­der­ing Path (10:10)
2. Weight of Days (8:44)
3. Some­thing Fell (11:30)
4. The Elder Lie (6:55)

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