Fieldhead: They Shook Hands For Hours
Home Assembly

Fieldhead (Leeds resident Paul Elam, who's also a full-time member of The Declining Winter and a member of Glissando's Fleeting Glimpse Ensemble) may identify tape hiss as his number one influence, but They Shook Hands for Hours is anything but a navel-gazing exercise in obsessive obscurantism. In some respects, it's a straightforward collection of ten rhythm-based instrumentals—‘instrumental rock,' some would say—that merges minimal guitar melodies with skeletal beat structures (the opener “This Train is a Rainbow” a good exemplar of the style); at the same time, the forty-minute album's also an exercise in textural sound-sculpting, as Elam smothers and smears his ponderous set-pieces with generous swathes of grainy textures. Labradford's name comes up in the press release, and the connection isn't off-the-mark; certainly They Shook Hands for Hours partakes at times of the murky, low-end gloomscaping that was so much a part of the Labradford sound.

Concision is one of the album's strong suits, with Elam accomplishing much in cut-to-the-chase pieces of three- and four-minute duration (“Songs Well Known,” a lulling marriage of oboe and sawing strings, one such example). Rippling noise splinters guitar and piano motifs into particles during “Of October,” while “He'd Found The Sea” expands on the basic palette by adding vibraphone and violins to the track's brooding atmosphere. In the title track, piano melodies from decades past seem to echo down the corridors of a decrepit mansion. If all this sounds appealing, those interested would be wise to act fast in order to obtain the limited edition of the release, which includes the regular disc plus an accompanying CD of remixes by Machinefabriek, Jasper TX, Seaworthy, Glissando, Northerner, and Library Tapes, among others.

December 2009