It's becoming increasingly common for artists releasing physical versions of their releases to enhance the material's presentation in some bold and ambitious manner so as to offer an appealing alternative to the strict download. In keeping with that movement, Chris Weeks has designed his latest Kingbastard opus Lost Property so that every one of its sixteen tracks is accompanied by a visual image. Though the concept album takes its inspiration from an old abandoned house that Weeks happened upon while walking in the foothills of the Preseli Mountains in West Wales, the experience of listening to the recording is more akin to walking through an art gallery where the visitor successively encounters distinctively designed images and the unique mini-soundtracks that accompany them.
Focusing primarily on the house itself and its immediate surroundings, the images are presented within a mini-booklet that itself slips inside a sleeve designed to suggest a house (with a die-cut windows treatment reminiscent of Physical Graffiti); the images themselves are often distressed-looking photos and renderings that are as corroded and time-worn as the property itself (Lost fans might even imagine a reference being made to the series in the ghostly “Rocking Chair” image). On musical grounds, Weeks weaves acoustic and electronic sounds—electric piano, crackling textures, field recordings, speaking voices, chiming guitars, old-school synths, bass, dust-covered grooves—into texturally rich sound-paintings that are heard individually yet experienced as a cohesive whole, to some degree because of the concept driving the project. Numerous styles emerge, with one encountering along the way lulling, guitar-laced dreamscapes (“Danlan Speaks,” “Detached,” “Let's Go For A Walk,” “Diwedd Y Llwybr Troed”), melodic post-rock (“Glim”), foggy ambient reveries (“Abandoned,” “The Mist Descends”), and even a generous number of tracks that one might label pastoral prog (“Rocking Chair,” “Under the Staircase,” “Memory's Ghost,” “The Sunlight Breaks Through”) and that call to mind Canterbury scene bands such as Caravan and Hatfield and The North (Swedish composer Bo Hansson also). Weeks even sneaks in a brief bit of back-country vocal blues (“Take Me Home”) that's about as far removed from conventional electronic music as one can get.
Though Weeks largely dials down the intensity by emphasizing the more meditative side of the Kingbastard sound, there are some comparatively aggressive moments, such as during “Fireplace” where krautrock and kosmische musik are invoked in equal measure. A wide-ranging collage of moods and styles that captures the full breadth of Weeks' creative imagination, Lost Property ultimately registers as an artistically compelling follow-up to Weeks' 2010 Kingbastard release Beautiful Isolation.