Album: July Skies

The English Cold, MAKE MINE MUSIC
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The Independent Culture

The 4AD-style sleeve design is entirely appropriate for this largely instrumental album from Avrocar's Antony Harding, which seems musically rooted in the lush gentility of The Cocteau Twins and, especially, The Durutti Column. Like Robin Guthrie and Vini Reilly, Harding is primarily concerned here with mood and texture. The English Cold is a concept-album concerned with evoking the effect of wartime mobilisation on rural East Anglia, from the climatic ambience of the title-track - slow guitar chords swelling gently in and out of earshot, with a dash of wistful harmonica - to the susurration, birdsong and guitar of "Strangers in Our Lanes" and "Death Was Where Your Sky Was", not so much songs as ghosts come back to haunt the countryside. Harding uses heavy reverb as a kind of canned nostalgia, an aural aspic that preserves the past inviolate, his limpid guitar suspended as if in a heat haze, as labourers pause to watch US bombers droning off. It's most successful in the opening "Farmers and Vil

The 4AD-style sleeve design is entirely appropriate for this largely instrumental album from Avrocar's Antony Harding, which seems musically rooted in the lush gentility of The Cocteau Twins and, especially, The Durutti Column. Like Robin Guthrie and Vini Reilly, Harding is primarily concerned here with mood and texture. The English Cold is a concept-album concerned with evoking the effect of wartime mobilisation on rural East Anglia, from the climatic ambience of the title-track - slow guitar chords swelling gently in and out of earshot, with a dash of wistful harmonica - to the susurration, birdsong and guitar of "Strangers in Our Lanes" and "Death Was Where Your Sky Was", not so much songs as ghosts come back to haunt the countryside. Harding uses heavy reverb as a kind of canned nostalgia, an aural aspic that preserves the past inviolate, his limpid guitar suspended as if in a heat haze, as labourers pause to watch US bombers droning off. It's most successful in the opening "Farmers and Villagers Living within the Shadow of Aerodromes", in which the echoing droplets of his Durutti-esque guitar lines are overlaid with a quiet lullaby of voices, local and American, reminiscing in a manner that, again, recalls The Sinking of the Titanic.

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