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Songs of Green Pheasant

Aerial Days

(Fat Cat; US: 28 Nov 2006; UK: 13 Nov 2006)

Duncan Sumpner, a teacher by day, composer by night from Sheffield in England, is Songs of Green Pheasant. His self-titled debut of last year won some praise for occasional gorgeousness and an all-enveloping low-fi glaze. Sumpner’s follow-up, an in-between release anticipating a full-length next year, is a collection of seven older tracks, home recordings and radio sessions from the period 2002-2005. The songs on Aerial Days are presented chronologically, so you know this is a fans-only release; little effort has been made to create a unified whole. However, the general tenor of the release is less Simon and Garfunkel and more Animal Collective, with a strong psychedelic shimmer. The upbeat, experimental moments are most successful, and find a new kind of static beauty in swirling guitars, multi-tracked vocals and gently-shaken tambourines. Beatles cover “Dear Prudence”, recorded for a BBC Radio One tribute show, is all calm, washed-out beauty; the famous hook the only recognizable remnant from the original, as ach ramp of melody repeats, and new hazy guitars spell bewitching layers of sound. It’s harder for the artist to make an impression when, as on “Remembering and Forgetting”, he’s tackling standard static singer-songwriter fare and doesn’t have the electronics of Syd Matters or Sebastien Schuller to make things a little more interesting. You can’t fault Songs of Green Pheasant for mood-creating; at the same time, you’re not going to slip on Aerial Days unless you’re in this particularly contemplative, serene mood.

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Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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7 Jun 2012
A lovely meditation on landscape, memory and loss.
5 Dec 2007
If Sumpner is a mystery in some circles, Gyllyng Street may just add to the tale; it is a work of beauty and depth, deserving of consideration and concentration.
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