Certain very specific kinds of records take only a few notes to draw me in. Mostly they are serious sounding, minimal, and impeccably produced records that tend to have a rather subtle groove built into an almost goth folk sensibility. Gravenhurst, the Bristol England band, is a kind of like Red House Painters on Joy Division, lead by the sweet but hypnotic vocals of Nick Talbot who mixes a kind of darkness with something that oddly optimistic. This is the kind of hidden gem that tends to pop up occasionally on labels like Sub Pop or Matador, but this time was released oddly on the genre defining ambient electronic label Warp.
A bit like the short lived American band Spain, “The Western Lands” alternates between slow methodical jaunts and almost pop songs like “Trust” to grittier more guitar driven instrummental moments. Most of the magic here lies in the layered guitar work that injects everything from almost spaghetti western soundtrack strumming to spacey restrained almost winter beach music to highland sounding guitar anthems. This record is about moods and the specific geographic places that inspire them. This is a very big, very small record, and one of the best I have heard this year.