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Pefkin - Observations on Land and Sea

Pefkin Observations on Land and Sea coverPefkin create the most beautiful hymnals to nature and landscape. Hot on the heels of The Light Bends Inwards, Observations on Land and Sea, the latest album from the Ayrshire based artist Gayle Brogan, started life following a tour with Burd Ellen, the drone-folk project she shares with Debbie Armour taking traditional folk song into darker realms. It is however the Beaufort Scale which provided the inspiration for lyrics on Observations on Land and Sea. An empirical measurement describing the impact of wind on land and sea might not seem the most interesting source matter but Pefkin transform it into something magical and dreamlike. The five tracks contained on Observations on Land and Sea encapsulate a beguiling sound which is hypnotic and sometimes meditative.

A calm lulling drone flows throughout 'The Sea is a Mirror', where Brogan's haunting vocals offer movement, gently overlapping like waves lapping on the shore. The constant to and fro motion accompanied by ripples of shimmer and sparkle. Sullen sound textures shift slowly on 'Smoke Drift' but it's Brogan's wistful intonations that captivate here, softly unfolding shadowed in solemn synths creating a sense of sacred stillness. The hushed singing of 'Crested Wavelets on Inland Water' carries the beauty of a folk song, filled with references to Gayle Brogan's abiding fascination with nature and ornithology. From underneath the drone of an electric violin emerges, and breezes outwards in mournful tremulous vibrations.

Amidst the glistening drone of 'Leaves Rustle and the Wind in my Hair / Light Flags Extended', a glockenspiel taps out a fragmented melody while birds chatter and the gentle harmonious voice arises, accompanied by a forlorn electric violin, from the enchanted air. Midway through it segues into moody drone movements with the low wail of a foghorn, casting billowing wordless harmonies into the distance. While this one, the longest of the short tracks on Observations on Land and Sea, may count as the most complex it's 'Loose Papers', the final track that surprises and enchants, and which may be their most song based composition to date.

"You sit at your window chair, shuffling loose papers" sings Brogan, a lyric returned to often on 'Loose Papers', over arcing drones and shimmering synths. Decidedly deceptive, on the surface it sounds like the most simple of Pefkin songs but it paints a vivid picture of a gathering storm and the chill brought on by the lightning and thunder. Consider it a rare slice of atmospheric dreamy pop folktronica.

Observations on Land and Sea is perhaps more minimal than previous releases, it is however no less enchanting. Quickly following The Light Bends Inwards it's clear Pefkin are on a creative roll. Pefkin are a unique voice within experimental and folk circles, and one deserving of being better known. After a day's work they make a perfect companion for countryside walks. Let this do for you what it did for me. Copies of the limited lathe-cut vinyl release are gone now but Observations on Land and Sea is available digitally from Pefkin bandcamp