(Border Community, out Fri 19 Apr 2019)
Inspired by the rugged Norfolk landscape, John Burton‘s latest album, out now on James Holden’s Border Community label, sees the London-based musician fuse field recordings from the coast and dazzling leftfield folktronica, and it’s a beautiful thing indeed.
Doing The Beeston Bump may sound like a Ramones title, but it’s more akin, genre-wise, to Boards Of Canada or Four Tet at their most opaque. Indeed, there’s a deep sense of synesthesia here, as a crunchy walk across a pebble beach feels druggy, turning to springy sponge beneath your feet, and the sea goes pink, purple, puce.
Burton’s use of Max software and strong visual sense are what makes his work so experimental and evocative. It would be easy to trundle out the usual reference points (Kraftwerk, Radiophonic Workshop etc) and there is of course a nod to those pioneers, but Burton is more modern in his approach than retro-styled.
So, Elephant Bones revs up as though the mice from Bagpuss’ Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ had discovered Krautrock, but it lands in a strange liminal space that’s fragmented future folk. It all splits into prismic shards, rainbow coloured and gleaming in late afternoon sunshine.
The title track burbles and pops like popping candy on the tongue, with modular synths that are shiny and sleek, but never cold. Dunes is more noodly and overtly psychedelic. However tech savvy he is, and no matter how much wizardry he uses in the studio, though, this music still feels organic, like a warm sonic bubble bath… Albeit not in an Alan Partridge way, more Stuart Maconie in Freak Zone mode. All to the good.