Thursday, 26 November 2009


Right, a bit of a break from the norm here as this is not an album share; but I've included a few streams for you to peruse whilst you deliberate on taking the monumental risk of actually paying FIVE POUNDS for an excellent record by a lovely person whom, in all certainty, deserves the money.

Powdered Cows is the solo alias of multi-instrumentalist songwriter Martin Roberts, resident of the rolling hills and sweaty crevices of Dorset (this is an important factor as we shall find out).

Compared to the playful noise-jazz chaos of one of Martin's many group projects, Skitanja, the Powdered Cows output is predominantly of the introverted, reflective indie-folk variety. I'm crap at hearing lyrics, but based on the artwork and song titles this album is inspired by very late nights and the 'blissed-out' (as a friend recently put it) atmosphere of the countryside in the South West. It's my belief that the closer to nature you are, the closer you are to the essence of life, and this is reflected in the Powdered Cows listening experience, which is quite ethereal. 'Descent From Animals'.

From track to track the permeating sound is hushed and reverential, even when things take a darker turn it's as if Martin were staked out at 3am with Bill Oddie, waiting for a badger to emerge from its burrow. These references to nature shouldn't be misread as New Age philosophy either - think more along the lines of British Sea Power, a pastoral Englishness and celebration of peaceful life, with a dash of spirituality.

A lot of work has gone into the production, and each track is layered with instruments, synths and samples of all kinds: woodwind, strings, trumpet, drum machine, accordion, toybox, to name but a few. It's the sound of a musical collector bringing his toys out of the loft to play.
But what really ties this record together for me are the sound samples and the hissy gramophone-like effect on many of the tracks. We hear birds crowing, what sounds like pattering rain throughout 'Eyes of Knives', radio static, a kick-drum that almost recreates the sound of a record skipping on 'Little Red Lilly Beetle', and a denouement that, appropriately, reminds one of the 'Lonely Man' theme...

Every song is legitimately catchy, but it's easy to overlook this amidst the homespun, secretive ambience of the album, which is only punctuated in the first half by Angus Rudd's driving drumwork featured on such tracks as 'Hidden Tapes'. This actually rocks in a subdued, post-punk way and is one of my favourites on here; with an intro that sounds like a processed organ feeding back, and a highly satisfying Doctor Who tone in the chorus.
The Doctor Who tangent might also take us, by way of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (also featured here) to the 21st century's Ghost Box label and its esoterical manifesto of mysticism and the paranormal; a thread that I feel Powdered Cows picks up on, at least in spirit.

Hear some tunes, and possibly purchase them., free downloads.

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