Seems to be a sudden spike of renewed interest in the Jewelled Antler label-cum-kollektiv and the early 2000s drone-folk (or whatever you wanna call it) underground they presided over. Arriving at the same time as Soft Abuse’s crucial Skygreen Leopards compilation, Recital here present a collection of previously unreleased material from another project of J.A.’s madly prolific cofounder Glenn Donaldson: The Ivytree.
As Recital gaffer Sean McCann explains, The Ivytree’s recorded output consisted of a handful of CDrs, all “slow and pastoral and pensive songs” recorded outdoors with field-recorders and mini-discs. A fan since his teens, McCann approached Donaldson about doing some kind of best-of Ivytree LP, but a trawl of the archive turned up a number of previously unreleased songs which demanded to be heard, and which now constitute Unburdened Light. It's a lovely title eh, and like the cover painting with its echoes of Emily Young's sublime work for Penguin Cafe Orchestra or Alfreda Benge's for Robert Wyatt, entirely apt: the songs have a pastel-hued but nonetheless DEEP, healing quality, culminating in the anaesthetising sway of ‘She Is The Swallow Pt.2’ and the organ-drone-driven ‘Quartered Sky’ - a sort of slow-cooked, folk-wise dream-brother of Spacemen 3’s ‘Lord Can Your Hear Me’. Not that there aren’t some seriously brooding and altogether bleaker moments: ‘Weak Hands Can’t Hold The Picture’ is a muffled howl of desolation as desperate as anything from Simon Finn or Dave Bixby, the wary jazz minimalism of 'Evil Is Circular’ is brilliantly haunting, and ‘Vows’'s voiceless field recordings of Bay Area edgelands curdle into the kind of dark ambient that makes you wonder where the bodies are buried. But for the most part this is a redemptive and life-affirming listen... refreshingly earnest and romantic and GENTLE.. Captain Comedown at the controls!