Songs of Green Pheasant

Songs of Green Pheasant

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Artists may record with a lo-fi setup for a variety of reasons -- the two most common being a wish to experiment and the simple lack of better equipment -- but the effect can often lead listeners to wonder whether it functions purely as a mask to hide fledgling musical skills, undeveloped songs, and a sheer lack of artistry. For Sheffield-based artist Duncan Sumpner, who recorded Songs of Green Pheasant in the kitchen of his home, recording in lo-fi was the economical choice. But, in a similar fashion to Devendra Banhart, the process emerges not as a crutch but a tool, one that enhances the ambience of his performances, which are already intrinsically interesting. Sumpner's work is far less whimsical, and far more melancholy and studied than the American Banhart; his double-tracked harmony vocals evoke the Simon & Garfunkel of "Scarborough Fair," and his lyrical concerns include isolation, British folk ritual, and the work of Russian novelist Boris Pasternak. Sumpner hits a ghostly peak on the seventh song, "Hey, Hey, Wilderness," when he sings with a plaintive weariness, "Cause who could say, where you are tonight, my love, who you're with tonight, my dear." It's true that Songs of Green Pheasant gains much from the ambience surrounding its recording, and it's also true that, on a superficial level, this record slots into the acid folk revival of the mid-2000s, but it succeeds far beyond the style's expectations and will last far beyond the style's expiration date.

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