Drone Records
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Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: FinalMuzik FM24
Release Year: 2018
Note: after (too) many years, a new full length album by the much favored project of MARTYN BATES and ALAN TRENCH (ORCHIS, TEMPLE MUSIC, etc..) is out, using "dulcimers, whistles, guitars, synths, disturbing digital background noise and other instrumentation with slices of pure, aching melody echoing through strange darkened corners, all enlivened and enlit by the wondrous tones of Martyn Bates." = pretty unique folk / psych / songwriting ambience with experimental edge! 13 tracks, 67 min.
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"MARTYN BATES (Eyeless In Gaza) & ALAN TRENCH (Orchis, Howling Larsons) return after a long hiatus with the fourth TWELVE THOUSAND DAYS album. From the opening “Death Went Fishing” (a free translation of “vgíke o cháros na psarépsei”, the classic rebetiko by Giannis Papaioannou) to the closing, haunting notes of “Red And Golden Fire”, the listener is taken on a journey made up of a thousand journeys, a thousand side trips, a thousand destinations, hinging around the sprawling central trip of “Pathless”, in which the ramifications of choices made swim into hazy view. The 13 tracks that make up “Insect Silence” are a concatenation of dulcimers, whistles, guitars, synths, disturbing digital background noise (“Night Harmonium”) and other instrumentation with slices of pure, aching melody echoing through strange darkened corners, all enlivened and enlit by the wondrous tones of Martyn Bates.

MARTYN BATES is well-known for his brilliant long-time work with EYELESS IN GAZA, for his solo albums and for collaborations with MICK HARRIS and ANNE CLARK.
ALAN TRENCH: co-founder of World Serpent Distribution and musician with brilliant projects/groups ORCHIS, HOWLING LARSONS, TEMPLE MUSIC." [label info]


"It's been quite some time since Martyn Bates (Eyeless in Gaza) and Alan Trench (Temple Music, Orchis) have come together as Twelve Thousand Days. It's fair to say much water has passed under the bridge since their last album From The Walled Garden in 2006. Insect Silence follows a ditched compilation release with the same title scheduled for release a number of years back. Insect Silence continues with the folk based music provided by Alan Trench and fronted by the distinctive voice of Martyn Bates but Insect Silence more so than their previous albums doesn't dwell solely in folk music. It may be its starting point but Insect Silence differs with passages of psych guitar and its layering of synths and electronics, as well as in the ambient interludes which feature throughout and often open up the tracks way beyond its grounding in folk music. Lyrically Insect Silence is couched in an English familiarity and in the eternal themes of life, love and death. Just shy of 70 minutes it's a long winding path of 13 tracks involving a large assortment of instrumentation which are woven into a complex and intricate tapestry of sound. You will be surprised by the pathways Twelve Thousand Days roam on .

Insect Silence opens to the spirited acoustic folk and percussive tambourine bashing of 'Death Went Fishing', outwitting death as it rushes onwards, weaving soaring psych guitars, which return throughout Insect Silence, as Bates implores that "he will return again". Its sets the scene for Insect Silence an album loosely based around folk music employing a rich multitude of instrumentation including guitars, dulcimers, harmonium, whistles as well as electronics. Twelve Thousand Days stretch the parameters of folk music with psych-guitar and ambient and instrumental interludes sprinkled throughout the 13 tracks. At times it likes listening to a Krautrock inspired psych-folk album with space rock leanings. In a good way, of course.

Opening to an ambient interlude 'Mad As The Mist' is the first of three musical settings of the words of Irish poet W.B. Yeats. Dreamy folk guitars entwine twang and strum, as Bates in his pure folk tones recalls philosophers such as Plato, Homer, Tully and Cicero, swelling into another passage of soaring solo of psych guitar and back again to dreamy folk song. More restless psych-guitar features on 'A Coat'. There's more of an experimental edge to the Yeats setting here pitching Bates' strained (and occasionally treated) voice to the fore, embellished by the pluck of guitar notes augmented by glinting electronics, bass throb and a needling guitar casting vibrations of psychedelic proportions. 'Arrow', the final piece in the Yeats trilogy is starker and played more straightforward with the beautiful folk voice over ringing acoustic guitar and warm synth backing.

Away from the Yeats tracks, a number of which Bates recorded with Troum in different musical forms, 'Errant Desires' moves to graceful ambience with flourishes of guitar notes. Bates' pure mournful tones add a sleepy lamentful melody, as faint electronics flicker behind the gentle flurry of guitar notes and assorted instrumentation. Beautifully atmospheric, it's one of my favourites on Insect Silence. Bates' voice is measured and melodic illuminating the sense of life passing in the evocative lyrics of rain falling, captured in our hands and gladly falling to the earth. More timeless folk arrives in the form of 'She Raises Her Eyes' where in captivating melodic tones Bates sings of a longing recalling long cold December months over duelling dulcimer chime.

One of the more surprising tracks appearing in the first half of the album is 'Invoke Hecate' where over passages of whistle and rousing, beating strum, Twelve Thousand Days sounding not unlike Ostara invoke the Goddess of Witchcraft, through an assortment of occult techniques. Alan Trench in past endeavours has facilitated many musicians in the apocalyptic folk genre but this rare sojourn, even with it blistering psych solo, can still raise an eyebrow and something of a smirk.

As mentioned earlier, Insect Silence is interspersed with instrumentals taking the music down alternate pathways, straying far off the beaten track. The first of these 'Night Harmonium' carries an air of arcane English mysticism with its loose folk stylings where strings chime and whistle billows merge over background synths and static clicks. The instrumental 'Old Ladies As Birds' is another brooding mystical moment where layers of whistles and flutes cast an age old melody over wheezing harmonium while loose guitar notes chime and ring out as distant electronics shudder underneath. While 'Old Ladies As Birds' is evocative of transforming souls and spirits, the jaunty folk offering of 'Fieldwork' is celebratory. Based on whistles and acoustic strum it comes across like a folk dance or Pagan procession. If 'Fieldwork' revels in a lost Englishness 'Descent' is dealing with nostalgia. A vintage crackling recording of 'See, The Conqu'ring Hero Comes' shrouds the descending organ scales of 'Descent'. Bates' voice is quiet, distant and softly murmured amidst the eerie disembodied voices of the choir as percussion rattles. You can almost picture the landscape on the pastoral 'Red and Golden Fire' another experimental offering mixing lulling electronics with whistles and flutes which closes the album.

Insect Silence hinges around 'Pathless' an epic experimental 16-minute musical and lyrical journey which we all make on our travels through life. Set in the middle of the album it continues the theme first introduced on the opener 'Death Went Fishing'. With the huntsman at our heels, we try to outwit death to no avail. Travelling from ringing guitar with Bates' voice, wrapped in layered accompaniment, veering between passages of Krautrock electronics and wavering synths to psaltery, whistles and location recordings. All the elements of Insect Silence emanate from and come together on this track to great effect. As it flows together seamlessly it's difficult to pinpoint where 'Pathless Part I' ends and 'Pathless Part II' begins but it may be when a heartbeat bass pulses and acoustic guitars ring out and the spoken word of Lisa (I think this is Elizabeth S who features on releases from Eyeless In Gaza) surfaces amidst guitars and layers of spacey synths which lull, crash and wail, before Bates returns, to close this epic track in high registered tones.

Insect Silence bustles with an immediacy, there's a sense of freshness of getting it all down on tape before the additional sound layers of instrumentation are added. Ambient, electronics, psych guitar, whistles, location recordings are all here embellishing the tracks making it intricate and complex. At the heart of it is an open-ended folk sound reflected in Bates' beautiful, distinctive voice which illuminate the timeless themes. Insect Silence is by far the best I've heard from Twelve Thousand Days and though the tracks are disparate there's an arching basis in folk music which traverses into other areas which holds it all together. As we said, Insect Silence is a journey, a pathway laid down just waiting for us to follow. Insect Silence is released digitally and on CD by Final Muzik in an edition of 500 copies. For more information go to Final Muzik and to download go to Final Muzik Bandcamp." [Compulsion Online]

"Man neigt gerne dazu, Bands, die sich nur alle Schaltjahre oder seltener zu neuen Aktivitäten zusammentun, als klammheimlich aufgelöst zu betrachten, erst recht dann, wenn es sich dabei um noch anderweitig aktive Musiker handelt – so wie Sänger Martyn Bates mit Eyeless in Gaza und seinem Soloprojekt und Instrumentalist Alan Trench mit seinen Folk- und Psychedelic-Gruppen Temple Music, Orchis und Black Lesbian Fishermen. Nachdem mit ihrem Duo Twelve Thousand Days wahrscheinlich nur noch wenige gerechnet hätten, steht mit „Insect Silence“ nun ganz überraschend ein neues Album in den Regalen, das fast da anknüpft, wo die beiden vor gut zwölf Jahren mit „From the Walled Garden“ aufhörten. Fast, denn gerade bei Alan sind doch ein paar Spuren seiner neuen Arbeiten herauszuhören.

Wie man es von früheren Aufnahmen her kennt, wechseln sich schmissige, fast frohsinnige Folksongs ab mit verträumt melancholischen Klageliedern und geheimnisvollen ambienten Soundscapes, und zusammen mit Bates’ unverkennbarer Stimme, die so klar und jugendlich wie eh und je klingt, kreiert die Musik ein verzaubertes Setting, das an ein langsam vor dem Auge verschwimmendes Jugenstilgemälde erinnert.

„Death Went Fishing“ und „Invoce Hecate“ zählen zu den eingängigen Folkstücken, die mit feurigem Geschrammel und ekstatischen Rasseln nach vorn galoppieren – mystische oder makabre Töne schleichen sich über sanft gesungene Textzeilen in die Szenerie und bilden mit der harmonischen Musik eine heikle Mischung, und schon mit den allerorts spürbaren heidnischen Untertönen sind die Stücke vor jedem Indie- und Pop-Appeal gefeit. Impressionistische Tableaus wie „Mad as the Mist“, dessen anfangs noch ziellos umhertastendes Gitarrenspiel sich erst nach und nach zu einem anmutigen Stimmungsbild zusammensetzt, bilden einen Gegenpol dazu, ebenfalls das aus einer balladesken Märchenwelt herübergewehte „Old Ladies as Birds“ und das mit Knacken und Knistern leicht verfremdete Zwischenspiel „Night Harmonium“ – beide Stücke gewinnen noch an Charisma durch Alans berührendes Flötenspiel.

In einigen dieser Tracks sind aber auch räudige Psych Rock-Elemente zuhören, die der Musik eine Kantigkeit verleihen, die in den klassischen Zeiten des englischen Folk nichts ungewöhnliches gewesen wären – zünftige E-Gitarrensoli und dröhnende Riffs, die die Folkmelodien, die sie spielen, gleichsam zerschreddern, als wären sie eine nationalhymne in Woodstock. Weder Eyeless in Gaza noch Orchis waren frei von solch rauen Beigaben, doch hier hat sich v.a. die Sprache jüngerer Temple Music in die Stilpalette geschlichen und gibt dem naturverbundenen Sound eine deutliche Prise Realismus.

Es gäbe einiges, das sich in den einzelnen Songs hervorheben ließ, die anrührende Melodie in „Errant Desires“, die cinematischen Verfremdungseffekte in „Red and Golden Fire“ und der melierte Orgelsound in „Descent“, der in ein verwehtes Sample des Liedes „Hail the Conquering Hero!“ (im Deutschen die Melodie von „Tochter Zion, freue dich“) übergeht, sind nur einige davon, doch alles in allem funktioniert „Insect Silence“ am besten als zusammenhängendes Werk, das mit mehrmaligem Hören immer mehr zu verzaubern weiß." [U.S., African Paper]