Silver Pyre – AeXE

...it’s a bit reverent at times, maybe sound tracking a sort of fantasy where Robert Graves meets up with Deliah Derbyshire to jam on a cold, moonlit Dorsetshire lane.

Sedgemore Recordings http://www.konkurrent.nl

Good record! Quiet, unobtrusive and more concerned with establishing its own sense of rhythm than any crowd pleasing tactics, AeXE nevertheless has bags of charm and is able to pull off that rare trick of allowing space and time to the listener. It’s a remarkably unhurried record, often dipping into nooks and crannies to find its Muse, but it’s a fun listen despite its slightly academic air. The notes say the LP is mastered by Saxon - not the NWOBHM heroes surely? We may never know but we can but dream.

For AeXE to be mastered by any Saxon, whether Athelstan or Biff Byford is fitting in any case. The record – given its song titles and cover art – is drawing creative strength from the same well as many British artists gone before, the landscape, the folklore and mystery that is conjured up by the wonders of the island’s Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age remains. Plenty have been in this territory; as such Silver Pyre is drawing on a strong tradition. The overall sound also reminds me (subconsciously) of a lot of the Phantom Band and Peter Hammill… a sort of kranky cussedness pops up now and again, just at the point where you think a beat or synth programme has run its course, things kick off again. As I’ve hinted, it’s a bit reverent at times, maybe sound tracking a sort of fantasy where Robert Graves meets up with Deliah Derbyshire to jam on a cold, moonlit Dorsetshire lane. This rarefied atmosphere doesn’t detract though: there are a lot of moments where the bleeps and atonal rhythms create a magical air – such as on the marvellous Urn Reconstruction, or the spooky, sexy Healing. At times things do get woozy and slip into some form of idle meandering (Calendar) but it’s always a pleasant listen – having the sort of lazy charm that keeps you involved and (fairly) attentive.

The LP takes off with the last few tracks, Ragged Flag is a great moment; the bubbling synths that prop the track up collide in a most pleasant manner with a whole host of beats and atonal squawks and whistles. Leathered is a tinny, pots, pans and oil cans take on a pastoral rave up: its 1991/2 “Trans American Express-isms” plain for all to hear. It’s great, mind. Best is saved to last though: Harvest is a cracking meditation, a spiral that floats around a repeated incantation, not really looking to go anywhere, dazed, but clear-eyed and wanting more.

This record may well win you round, by stealth.