Jasper Leyland: Fieldstone

Jasper Leyland (York-based Jonathan Brewster) graced the Stray Dog Army imprint in 2006 with Margin and does the same for Benbecula's Minerals Series with Fieldstone a year later. Refracting his acoustic elements through a stuttering array of static and pops and embedding the results within a dense mix of organic field noises, Brewster's electroacoustic meditations maintain listening attention throughout. Even at its most abstract, Fieldstone never loses its intimate and natural character. The insistent shudders during the opening minutes of “Lacewing” suggest a trapped animal frantically trying to release itself, while the becalmed “Wheatear” exudes an aqueous, quality that makes it seem like it was recorded at the center of a forest by a burbling stream. In the album's centerpiece, the almost thirteen-minute “Shallowflight,” muffled horn tones and acoustic plucks struggle to establish a state of restfulness alongside a ceaseless tide of electronic interventions. In its middle section, the piece drifts through a dazzling episode dominated by dense swirls of rustling percussive noises, before closing in its final third with looping tones and natural sounds. In addition, the lulling stream of willowy tones that constitutes the title piece makes for a satisfying coda. Admittedly, his approach isn't without precedent—it's hard not to hear Fennesz when listening to the bucolic stutter of “Harefen,” for instance—but there's no question Brewster's an accomplished exemplar of the ‘laptop guitar' genre nonetheless.

May 2007