The A. Lords self-titled LP is a collection of music by Michael and Nicholas. The name comes from a joke made on an autumnal afternoon that no longer makes sense, and probably wasn't funny in the first place. Nicholas is better known for making short elaborate instrumental music as Directorsound and Michael has a history of making longer, gloomier pieces as Plinth. The A. Lords peversely straddle the two, looking down at us with an expression of woe. Some of the songs recorded date back almost 8 years now. Each one was a very slow and deliberate paean to the oft maligned (and rightly so) fields of Dorset. The first batch were improvised on summer days spent in gardens, churches and a lovely old wooden summerhouse. The second set of songs made themselves known over two nights in a rusty old barn during Harvest Festival. Microphones were placed in trees outside and under the floorboards, making the tunes regretfully creak into life.
The LP, comprising 4 tracks from the Barl Fire EP and 6 new songs, is was released in July 2011 on Rif Mountain and sold out soon after.
"What does it mean to use the sounds of birds and of weather as part of nearly every track of an album of music? In the case of The A.Lords’ new self-titled release, it would seem to be an attempt to bring the music closer to nature, to locate its source and its inspiration in the natural environment…
The choice of acoustic instruments, gentle major-key harmonies, and relaxed tempi would also seem a call to return to a simpler way of life, a state of being more in touch with the world that hums and sings all around us. Guitar, piano and glockenspiel meander and jig through the album’s ten tracks, joined now and then by voices human and avian. The press release lists gardens, churches, a summerhouse and a barn as recording locations, and the occasional pattering of rain and the creaking of barn doors are allowed to bleed into the record. The result is the perfect soundtrack to an English summertime.
But how realistic is this picture of nature that is being painted? Where is the violence and destruction we know is part of the environment? The chaos, the randomness, the tendency towards entropy? Does the nature in the picture really exist, or is it constructed, like the English countryside painted by Constable to hang in the drawing rooms of the newly urbanised industrial class? Is ‘nature’ really how we think we’d want the physical environment around us to be, an imagined primeval source that is in fact imposed in hindsight? A kind of retrospective utopia?
Ah, but the music is so beautiful, so blissful, so far away from the actual physical world we’re happily destroying, and that will probably take us down with it… A timeless charm of summer and Englishness, a natural harmony that has always been and always will be… And as the gentle lullaby of “Pyewacket’s Nest” draws the album to a close with the tinkle of a music box, one finds it so easy to drift off into a dream…
- Nathan Thomas for Fluid Radio"
released September 25, 2011
Nicholas Palmer and Michael Tanner with:
Tom James Scott: Guitar on Freohyll
Aine O'Dwyer: Harp on Freohyll
Julian Poidevin: Voice and Guitar on Of Wren Or Raven
Autumn Grieve: Voice and Dulcimer on Pyewacket's Nest