Review: The Gray Field Recordings - Nature Desires Nature (2012)


artist: The Gray Field Record­ings
release: Nature Desires Nature
format: CD-R
year of release: 2012
label: Reverb Wor­ship
dur­a­tion: 44:12

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Con­sist­ently far too deep below the radar, The Gray Field Record­ings is one of those artists that oper­ate in a unique and fas­cin­at­ing area at the cross­roads of exper­i­mental folk and elec­tron­ica, yet whom I rarely see men­tioned by any­one else. I’ve been tout­ing the vir­tues of R. Lof­tiss’ pro­ject since the begin­ning of this web­site in 2006, and it’s good to see this latest album picked up by a pro­li­fic under­ground label such as Reverb Wor­ship, though once more in a lim­ited edi­tion of 51 cop­ies, an amount that should be sold at least five times over based on the qual­ity of the music Lof­tiss has put out in the past eight years.

Pre­vi­ous album The Weaver’s Daugh­ter was one of my favour­ite records of 2009, and thank­fully Nature Desires Nature fol­lows in its styl­istic foot­steps. Opener “Nature” com­bines dark gui­tar drones with deep strings and other instru­ments by guest artists with semi-melodic spoken word by Lof­tiss her­self and Mike Seed. The second track is even more typ­ical of the TGFR sound, with Lof­tiss’ wis­pily echo­ing spoken word pieces rolling over a min­imal e-piano melody, and unnerv­ing samples of rust­ling and crack­ing wood.

The folk inspir­a­tions for this music are dir­ectly on dis­play in a dark rendi­tion of “Wil­low Waly”, one of the few occa­sions where Lof­tiss her­self sings on this album. Justin Jones’ violin work also comes to prom­in­ence here, another steady and excel­lent guest artists on TGFR albums. A couple more impres­sions: “A Des­cent” is a long, min­imal piece with eerie voices and drones, whereas “Scared of Wolves” is a nervous fairytale piece, fea­tur­ing spoken word by Alan Trench (Twelve Thou­sand Days, World Ser­pent) and build­ing up to a noisy cli­max. The double final track, then, is one of the oddest pieces, with an out-of-place (though noth­ing is truly out-of-place in this music) fun­fair melody and Lof­tiss singing in a thin voice, again devolving into wild noise and a short coda.

As you will be able to deduce, this is a pretty gloomy album, but brim­ming with atmo­sphere. Unnerv­ing snatches of old songs, envir­on­mental sounds, ghosts, stars, these are but a few of the images Nature Desires Nature brings me. It’s per­haps a touch less mel­an­cholic than the pre­vi­ous album, and has a few more tracks with longer min­imal drones, but that only serves to set it apart enough and pre­vent it from being a copy. Once more, I can only heart­ily recom­mend this excel­lent latest album by The Gray Field Record­ings, and it is my wish that these recom­mend­a­tions don’t fall on too many deaf ears.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Nature (5:03)
2. The Maple Sel­dom Inward Sound (4:06)
3. Wil­low Waly (3:57)
4. Star Bells (1:54)
5. A Des­cent (6:10)
6. Scared Of Wolves (5:20)
7. Honey Locust (5:26)
8. Cher­ubim Wheels (5:07)
9.1. A Little World (4:49)
9.2. In A Field Or Far Away… (2:20)