When I was young, aged around 12, I used to do a lot of cycling where I lived east of Hull in Northern England. It was the summer of 1976 which, at the time, was one of the hottest on record. It was a weird summer as there was a water shortage and an infestation of ladybirds which, together with the unusual heat, retrospectively gave the whole season an end of days feel to it.
I spent a lot of my time on my bike going up and down a disused railway line, with my portable cassette player in my saddlebag blaring out music: The Sweet were my absolute favourites, but Top 40 rundowns would also feature. Into 1977 it was Jean Michel Jarre, but then the year zero of punk hit me like a train. It was the first time I took my music with me, cycling through the East Yorkshire countryside with my tunes at my back… freedom to listen and freedom to think.
Since then I have early adopted each form of portable music… the Walkman was revolutionary, until the iPod arrived… and then that became one app on a phone… I can only imagine what my 12 year old self would have made of Spotify?
I am sure that you are wondering by now why I am going on this trip down memory lane? It is because the three 12″ EPs that make up the ‘Lowfold Works Trilogy’ very much remind me of that time… not because they sound like The Sweet, although there is arguably some Jean Michel Jarre in there, but because they are about taking music with you through landscapes.
Each of the EPs represent half-remembered journeys through (mainly West) Yorkshire… journeys that bring in other places and times as the musicians carry their memories with them and commit them to files as they record in old textile mills.
The result is six sides of music… or one long listen if you choose a digital platform… that seem to be completely out of time, in stasis somewhere beyond the mundane… and yet somehow steeped in a solidity… perhaps a former solidity that has long since melted into air, and yet is recalled here and given new voice.
Memory is a strange thing… we think we remember our lives with accuracy, and yet these memories are mediated through the prism of subsequent experiences… it seems to me that I was constantly on my bike during that hot summer… I probably wasn’t… no doubt I had other cassettes that have faded from my recall… and yet that hardly matters, and that, I think, is what this Trilogy has captured.
So while they recall a journey… one that may, or may not, have happened… they also take you on a fresh one which, whether you listen at home or in transit, seems to buy you some freedom… freedom to listen and freedom to think. It is music that takes you along with it… an amiable companion whose presence is important, but is never in your face.
All in all these releases, and the first one came out in 2017, have a certain perfection to them if you want something that is full of musical history… and you can call off at some key places along the way… in a way that feels like your musical history.
This sort of ambience is not easy to achieve which underlines just how deceptively good this 100 minutes is… whether you are on a commute, or on a pilgrimage… and excursion or an odyssey… this music will go there with you and let you arrive at your destination rather wishing that you were still on the way.
The Lowfield Works Trilogy is available on vinyl and download on the Craven Faults bandcamp page here.
An EP of remixes from Pye Audio Corner, Don’t DJ and President Bongo has also just been released, and is available here too.
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