1. Erratics and Unconformities - Craven Faults
(The Leaf Label)
Springhead, Netherfield, Eller Ghyll... the locations that gave their names to the initial Craven Faults EP’s can be seen when using one of those online maps that are so popular these days. They are scattered around the post industrial landscape of Yorkshire. Monochrome images of desolate and abandoned sites appeared on the sleeves of the records. The music, composed in a former textile mill, hummed with loops of modular synths, gradually rising and falling. Lengthy minimalist pieces whose repetition was either hypnotic or nauseating, depending on your perspective.
Those initial EPs could also be found in the limited run of CD’s of ‘Erratics and Unconformities’ the band’s debut album. It is well worth hunting down.
As for the album itself, the band (and even though the artists remain anonymous, I’m sticking with the word ‘band’ regardless), have stuck to the same principles. Six long works of stark machine-music, the sound of ‘Cupola Smelt Mill’ feels like the lost soundtrack to a film that suggested that this is what the bright new future will look like...
And if you prefer your musical score to be as forbidding as a dark satanic mill then the pulsating ‘Slack Sley and Temple’ is for you. The grumbling sounds that creep in at around the ten minute mark are ghostly and unnerving and turn the track into the most oppressive piece of music that I have heard all year.
Far more restful is the spacious 'Deipkier' a gentle Kraftwerkian piece that will have you reaching for a copy of 'Neon Lights' after you've listened to it, as it is that sublime. At less than eight minutes it is shortest piece here, although the version on the later 'Live Faults' EP does take the piece up to a mesmerizing 26 minutes.
Released in January, 'Erratics and Unconformities' is the one album whose subtlety and vision has remained so compelling throughout the year. Craven Faults have delivered the best record of 2020.