Switched On – Craven Faults: Standers (The Leaf Label)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

This is a big year for the elusive minds behind Craven Faults. On the horizon is a debut live show in September, where their modular synthesisers, cables and organs will be extracted from the old textile mill where they work, and presented to the public.

Part of that presentation will surely include Standers, the outfit’s second album. A large scale piece, it moves towards a large scale approach that sees four of the six tracks clocking in at more than ten minutes each. Their approach is self-described as ‘a self-contained analogue electronic journey across northern Britain, viewed through the lens of a century in popular music.’ This time around the perspective around the landscapes they create in music is shifting, looking at how their outlines have been shaped by the elements and by human settlers. The interaction between the two provides plenty of raw material for composition.

What’s the music like?

Rather like the artwork. Craven Faults make music of the exquisitely shaded black and white variety, with a combination of panoramic drones and detailed foreground work that makes a lasting impression and keeps the listener coming back for more.

The longer form of composition definitely suits Craven Faults’ music, as it allows each scene to be set, subtly shaded and crafted.

First track Hurrocstanes – which appears to be a historical name for Haddock Stones, in North Yorkshire – makes a striking start. Over the course of a quarter of an hour it emits a regular, tolling chime that is equal parts foreboding and comforting, as the musical landscape beneath pulses with activity, subtly shifting from the root note and back again.

Even more impressive is Sun Vein Strings, a blast of light from its massed banks of keyboards but also with plenty going on elsewhere. The 18-minute epic becomes a series of twisted electronic moves, the lines expanding and contracting with hypnotic regularity, and with the syncopation throwing the listener off the beat.

The shorter tracks are equally concentrated. Severals rises impressively from the depths, its synthesizer lines gaining in stature, while Odda Delf gains a probing piano line.

Descriptive writing is at the heart of Craven Faults work, and the outdoors certainly beckons on a track like Meers & Hushes, describing nature’s efforts to cover the trails of human industry. Its regular pulse suggests past activity, while the drones are highly descriptive. The music rises to a higher pitch, slow riffs playing off each other.

Does it all work?

Yes. Craven Faults have the ability to make music indoors that very clearly portrays the landscapes around them, and the blend of natural and mechanical elements feels just right.

Is it recommended?

Yes. On this evidence the live material will be fascinating to chart – but taken as a standalone work, Standers represents a very fine achievement and a cornerstone of this year’s British electronica.



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