Album Appreciation: Black Water/ Brown Earth by Ivan the Tolerable

There is something about finding that first great record of the New Year… after all the ‘best of…’ lists and catching up on what you missed, January (although arbitrary in many ways) also somehow feels like a clean slate… a fresh palette… a time to set out again on musical journeys. Even better if it is an artist who is completely new to you…

Ivan the Tolerable, aka Middlesborough’s Oli Heffernan, is someone I had heard of from various Facebook posts, and from the bill of Bristol’s Astral Festival later this year (which I am very much looking forward to)… but had not hitherto heard anything by… this changed when this new album came up on my Spotify alerts with that brand-spanking new 2023 release date… I had soon ordered the vinyl (there’s also a cassette version) and, frankly, I just cannot get enough of it at the moment.

So why do I like it so much? Well for starters, in common with so much stuff I end up writing about, it’s not something that’s easy to pigeonhole… hell I was going to start listing the genres that I’m picking up here… but that would ultimately feel like a fruitless task… so instead let me say that there is such an easiness to this music… I certainly do not mean that it is bland, quite the opposite in fact… because the laid-back nature of the sounds here somehow belies their complexity and intricacies…

Every track here is different… there are long ones which really build up a head of steam, and there are shorter ones which seem to re-invigorate the whole experience. There are ambient tracks, and there are more punchy ones… there are numbers that feel like they are taking you on journeys… and there are ones that seem to keep your feet, or your mind, firmly planted… there is a saxophone… suuuch a lovely saxophone… and there are cow bells (YES!)… there is tribal drumming and there are some beautiful melodies that are encased within rhythms that are gratifyingly substantial.

It almost feels lazy to not go more deeply into this album… but I feel that by listening to it you will understand that, actually, I really wanted to tell you how much it is worth spending time with, without giving to much away… so why not tune into Spotify or Bandcamp or whatever… and give this one your undivided attention because there’s a fair chance that it won’t be the last time that you want to listen to it…

‘Black Water/ Brown Earth’ is out now on vinyl/ cassette and d/l on Up In Her Room, and also available directly from Ivan himself.



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