The Days And Hills Grown Old

by Agitated Radio Pilot

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Originally released as a CDR on the 22nd November 2006.

'ARP returns to the Deserted Village for The Days and Hills Grown Old CD-R, and reconnects with landscape and mist for a haunted outing somewhere between early solo guitar improvisations and the soul-searching of Your Turn to Go It Alone. "Saints Island" opens with deep earth humming and spare but emotive guitar plucking reminiscent of Mazzacane Connors and also not too far removed from the minimalist blues pickings of Tetuzi Akiyama's fine Pre-Existence CD. Much is carried by the silence between the notes. The spare lightly jazz-inflected "How You'll Fall" sounds spiritually exhausted in a chillingly effective way. Not easy listening, it forces the listener to get inside the heads of the male and female protagonists to try and connect with it - no easy task. The unaccompanied "Floodplains" and canonical "The Liminal Hills" are easier to plug in to; the former's ghostly tradition segueing into the latter's avant-folk. Taking up more than half the CD, the transcendent "And if I Remained in the Outermost Sea" is a 20 minute live improvisation based around the work of the same name by W. G. Sebald. Like "The Barren Ground Assembly", it blurs the boundaries between what one expects of an ARP release and what one expects of a United Bible Studies release. Inspired by the presence of Matthew Bower and Michael Flower on the same bill it builds from ambient drone to collective freakitude, fueled by zoned percussion and contemplative flute passages. The Days... suffered some hefty disrespect on release for not consolidating on the melodic song-craft of Your Turn... and it is definitely more detached than its predecessor, but nonetheless contains fine and lasting moments that sit well within the ARP/UBS construct as a whole.' Tony Dale, Deep Water Acres.

'The Days and Hills Grow Old' is one of the most recent releases by the artist. It is split between shorter quiet pieces and a huge twenty minute piece 'And If I Remained By The Outermost Sea'. The first piece 'Saint's Island' is a minimal series of quietly discordant notes that fit into a curious melody. The second piece evolves from the first and has a shared male/female vocal. There is though a sense of things not fitting together, a deliberate tension in the melodies creating mystery, all perhaps not being what they seem. 'Floodplains' has a solo female vocal that sounds like an ancient traditional recital. 'The Liminal Hills' is a standout acoustic song of reverence for the landscape. Sublime guitar is surrounded by hints of looped vocal and electric guitars. The longer track starts with just slow, somber melodies and ever so gradually expands to include accordion, horn, electronics and many other instruments. It becomes a call out to the landscape, retrained but celebratory. Our final piece is the title track with just minimal guitar and bent-string acoustic melody. The minimal approach, the space this leaves creates a sense of emptiness, even loneliness. In a busy world, this is rare indeed. When the female vocal joins in toward the end it is so intimate, so delicate that the instruments almost intrude. We are part of something special, a moment of pure musical expression. Uncomplicated and perfect, it lasts barely a minute.' Mark Coyle, Harvest Home.

'Dave Colohan (United Bible Studies, Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree, Holt and nearly every other band on Deserted Village by my reckoning) follows up the achingly beautiful and highly personal 'Your Turn to Go It Alone' (on Rusted Rail reviewed here) with an altogether more low-key and haunted affair: 'The Days and Hills Grown Old'. There are no detailed notes available this time around, so it's a little unclear who is collaborating with Dave on this one, though clearly there is collaboration, most strikingly in the vocal department. So we'll just use the catch-all Dave Colohan and friends to describe the personnel involved. If 'Your Turn to Go It Alone' was Dave throwing open the attic windows to let the breeze blow through and out taking with it the detritus - good and bad – of past relationships, 'The Days and Hills Grown Old' returns to core United Bible Studies of landscape, mist and psychic mapping. 'Saints Island' opens with dread subsonics (unless there's an earth leakage in my system somewhere – always a possibility) and spare, Mazzacane Connors influenced acoustic guitar (with some notes played I swear were not intended). Just as your brain is wrapped around the thing it finishes. Good thing that – so many tracks these days outstay their welcome. More skeletal guitar characterises 'How You'll Fall', on which a female vocalist friend joins Dave for a sombre duet akin to the track 'A Melbourne Nocturne' on the nut-crunchingly great Holt CD. 'Floodplains' is a delicate unaccompanied folk piece with Dave-friend again on femvox. I'm pretty sure it's the lass from Magickal Folk, and the track definitely has the flavour of that project. When she sings "I've taken almost human form" you'll have the irresistible desire to look back over your shoulder to see if anyone is there. There might just be. The finest track on the release is probably the celestial 'The Liminal Hills', where processed and unprocessed Colohan vocals fuck with your peace of mind in exemplary neo-folk fashion - out on the perimeter there are jars full of fireflies strung along the wire, radiating their last life signs. Somewhat different to everything else on the release, 'And if I Remained in the Outermost Sea' is a 20 minute live improvisation based around the work of the same name by W. G. Sebald. It's a typical UBS live piece along the lines of the ragaesque 'Airs of Sun and Stone' CD-R, and according to Dave's blog was recorded supporting Sunroof, and took advantage of the presence of Matthew Bower and Michael Flower to supplement Dave and Friends. In any case it is propelled along nicely by some ragged percussion and contemplative flute passages for some transcendental shenanigans. Finishing up, the title track returns to some spare, muscular steel-string guitar and more vaporous femvox, recalling Vashti Bunyan towards its conclusion.' Tony Dale, Terrascope Online.

'The Days And Hills Grown Old is the latest Agitated Radio Pilot album. Because the previous album, Your Turn To Go It Alone totally blew me away, I had pretty high expectations of this one. I must say that this album doesn't live up to those expectations entirely, even though it's not bad at all. The first thing that is remarkable is the atmosphere, which is vastly different from that on Your Turn.... The Days... is much more minimalistic and even more melancholic than the previous album, and there is a more definite ambient touch to the songs. The album starts with the acoustic guitar song "Saints Island", which is very serene and sad, precisely like the misty, sunken meadow on the front cover. After this comes the estranging "How You'll Fall". This song is a duet between man and woman, with a sort of old fashioned, jazzy vocal melody, and a dissonant guitar backing. "Floodplains" is an a capella track, sung with a high, thin female voice. I believe this is the same lady as the one that sings for The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree. In itself, the song is nice and clear, but I absolutely don't like the sound of her voice. This is more a matter of taste, though. "The Liminal Hills" reminds one of the songs on Your Turn... and is the highlight of the album for me. David's unique way of playing guitar and his beautiful voice are combined in a wonderful, melancholic song. Following is the longest track, "And If I Remained By The Outermost Sea". The song has a great, serene start, which is slowly developed with more and more instruments, until finally a rhythm section and voice join in. The percussion makes it sound very ritualistic, and also the voice, which is clearly used as an instrument, contributes to this. It also seems as if the song gets more and more surreal and strange, and because of this it stays interesting for the full 20 minutes. The last song is a great introspective one with acoustic guitar and the same thin voice as on the third song, which spoils it a bit for me. This CD has some extremely good songs, such as the opening track, "The Liminal Hills" and "And If I Remained...", but the other songs are a bit disappointing to me, because of the female voice which doesn't appeal to me. I also think that the minimalist atmosphere of this album would be better expressed if David had used his beautiful voice a bit more. Nevertheless, this is a well-succeeded CD, especially if you have no problems with thin vocals.' D.M.K. Evening of Light.

'Much more than with the piano, there's doubt shining through a guitarchord. The microsecond the player's fingers first touch the snares always contain faint hints of uncertainty. It's an appealing characteristic, when someone plays a melancholic piano part, it's so overtly melancholic but when someone plays a melancholic guitar melody, you subconsciously detect more of the person?s nuances which automatically leads to more sympathy. The reason why I think of this are the first minutes of this album, the third by Desert Village founder Dave Colohan, The Days and Hills Grown Old. Opening track, Saints Island is solely built from minutes of desolate guitarplucking, resonating into seconds of silence before morphing into the next track. Hardly impressive but it gives you some minutes to contemplate about the guitar and that's always a nice thing to do. How You'll Fall actually has vocals, male and female, singing together like they know they're going down and have accepted their demise. It?s one way to look at it, another is that it's boring, unfortunately. The duo sings with mysteriously little affection but that just seems to be their shtick. Floodplains is just female vocals, almost Christina Carter-like but much more in a medieval, British vein. It's definitely a step up from previous tracks but again fails to impress. The album's moneymaker is And If I Remained by the Outermost Sea. A twenty minute, minimalistic folk epic in which Colohan finally takes his time to release his talents. It builds up with brooding drones and the vibe instantly gets more mysterious and transcendent. It's almost like the rest of the album doesn't matter anymore when you?re in the midst of this and by the time it ends you wonder why Colohan choose to surround this impressive centerpiece with a selection of stale, unimpressive folksongs.' 6/10 -- Joris Heemskerk, Digitalis Online.


released October 6, 2006




Deserted Village Ireland

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Deserted Village has released music by United Bible Studies, Toymonger, Thinguma*jigsaw, The Magickal Folk Of The Faraway Tree, Agitated Radio Pilot among many others.

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