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Chalk Hill Blue

by Will Burns & Hannah Peel

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Now available in a new, vinyl-only Deluxe Edition, comprising Chalk Hill Blue album and Pale Tussock 7".

    Includes unlimited streaming of Chalk Hill Blue via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Signed by Will and Hannah. Last remaining copies

    Includes unlimited streaming of Chalk Hill Blue via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days
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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Includes unlimited streaming of Chalk Hill Blue via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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1.
Out Of Doors 02:07
2.
3.
Afterwards 02:07
4.
5.
Change 07:48
6.
7.
May 9th 02:01
8.
Swallowing 01:46
9.
Ridgeway 01:52
10.
Summer Blues 02:56
11.
February 01:02

about

Chalk Hill Blue is the first album by poet Will Burns and musician and composer Hannah Peel: a record of electronic ruralism channeling lives threaded through the chalk landscapes of Southern England. It is released by Rivertones on Friday 22nd March.

As part of their collaboration, Will Burns, Hannah Peel and producer Erland Cooper walked the landscapes around Burns’s Wendover house together: their chalk-heeled boots tracing shared routes through the rhythms and repetitions of the place. What emerges in Chalk Hill Blue is a site-specific-non-specific record of creative place portraiture; an album that traces elements of a living landscape, and reworks them into something that is as sensitive and finely-observed as it is visionary.

Peel’s subtle use of analogue synthesisers and drum machines seems at times directly divined from the landscape, like crackling seismographs taking the pulse of the place. On opener ‘Out of Doors’, a tape loop fluctuates and flakes away with each pass, before the pace picks up on ‘The Night Life’ where sine waves crunch like snow underfoot, as a synthesiser swoops above. The granular dipslope drops of album centrepiece ‘Change’ tumble like electric storm clouds, before opening out into ascending trills of breathy woodwind and synth. On ‘May 9th’, Burns’s tale of rural regret is underpinned by the click of a drum machine gently crackling in the damp spring (reverb) air, slowly taking a semblance of shape before evaporating as quickly as it came. Later on, the soft tread of sustained piano notes on ‘Summer Blues’ slowly unfurl, opening spaces for Burns’s words to resonate.

Burns is softly spoken and gently deferent; his poems a modest exchange between world and word, and the smudged cultural geologies of our lives. He narrates quiet everyday moments in which romance, heartbreak, ambition and failure course through porous bodies. His words evoke landscapes tensed between presence and absence, and between stasis and change, through which the strange attraction of uncertain memory gently tugs. Stories half-caught and half-cut.

Burns’s words and Peel’s sounds – deftly fused by Cooper’s sympathetic production – channel the minute shifts in the air and atmosphere of a place, and their resulting emotional effects. The spoken words and sound worlds on Chalk Hill Blue often seem to emerge from subliminal processes of call and answer; a fertile blurring of collective inspiration and intention circling this abstracted chalk landscape.

Perhaps if Delia Derbyshire’s later years in Cumbria had been happier then a record like this might have emerged from the fells, or alternatively if Virginia Astley’s gardens had contained a modular synth or two. Other triangulation points might include Hans Joachim Roedelius’s bucolic kosmiche reveries, Joanna Brouk’s new age minimalism, or James Yorkston’s ambient spoken word experiments. Like the butterfly with which it shares its name, Chalk Hill Blue is a rare thing: a glorious electric pastoral shimmer.

(Rob St John November 2018.)

credits

released March 19, 2019

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