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Peter Wright - An Angel Fell Where the Kestrels Hover

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Artist: Peter Wright

Album: An Angel Fell Where the Kestrels Hover

Label: Spekk

Review date: Jan. 11, 2010

Escapism gets a bad rap, but who couldn’t use an occasional escape from the mundane grind? Peter Wright trades in drone-based music that’s particularly effective at taking you out of your head, but An Angel Fell Where the Kestrels Hover’s bliss means more when you know its back-story. The New Zealander, who plays twelve-string guitar and effects, recorded it under rather dire circumstances during the summer of 2007, one of London’s most sodden on record. Working a hectic day job and residing in a dilapidated, water-damaged flat, commuting to a hectic day job, and planning a trans-global move back home, one might expect him to take the year off from music. Instead he recorded three albums, of which this is the third. If the LP Bright Failing Star expressed autumnal decay and the dense, enveloping double CD Snow Blind the dark drear of winter, Angels is a dream of what comes next.

“Fell Asleep Here” opens the record on a brief, static note, like that last snatch of dreamless torpor before hibernation lifts. “Sunstroke” cycles a heavily reverbed chord pattern round and round, as though fraught with the trepidation one feels after a long sleep and before the first cup of coffee. As its overtones fade away, a field recording of buzzing bees and chirping birds raises the temperature and counsels stillness; they won’t sting you if you don’t move. But even in pastoral reverie, the city isn’t far away. Traffic rumbles in the background, a reminder of the oppressively crowded streets depicted in the video that Wright made to accompany the record.

What Angels really provides is not escape but a relief that, like a slick martial arts practitioner (Wright referenced the Drunken Master on Snow Blind), turns adversity against itself. Is your city, as the title “London Is Drowning” suggests, practically underwater? Then hit a few Robin Guthrie-worthy liquid notes and float away. But not for too long — the next track is named “And I Live By The River,” so there may be some mopping to do when you get home. Wright’s guitar tone on “Kestrel,” the final track, is so soaked in effects that it sounds more like an assemblage of organ tape loops. It swirls and turns, then fades into a gently picked coda as healing as a half-hour nap.

By Bill Meyer

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Pretty Mushroom Clouds / At Last A New Dawn

Bright Failing Star

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