The Edinburgh-based record label/arts collective Blackford Hill has consistently put out interesting, thoughtful material for a few years now, taking in ambient, jazz, folk, and field recordings with a sense of connection to the natural world. Makushin combines all those influences and creates a beautiful, immersive soak in the ethereal; a meditative moonlit walk through a world of cosmic connectivity.
The trio of guitarist Peter Philipson, singer Nancy Elizabeth and bassist Jon Thorne each bring their own influence to this short album. Thorne – best known as part of 90s trip hop pioneers Lamb and of Yorkston/Thorne/Khan – brings a Mingus-y slide and bend on the double bass that guides the flow of the album along. There’s the same feeling of immersion in a timeless world that marked Lamb’s early work, and it would be interesting to hear this trio interpret some of that material.
Philipson comes from ambient project Fenella, his open playing and ornate embellishments evoking the big open spaces of The Durutti Column or ‘New Grass’ -era Talk Talk. It’s an expansiveness that pairs intuitively with Andrew Wasylyk’s vibraphone on ‘More Easily’ and drives the album’s more esoteric moments, the layering and looping ‘Something Something’ sitting in the meditative sweet spot of Tim Hecker or the gentler end of Merzbow.
Elizabeth’s folk background makes for a melodic accessibility, particularly in the first half of the album. Reminiscent of Beth Orton’s work with William Orbit,she has an unaffected and honest vocal delivery with a surprising ability to soar. Her lyrics bring a Buddhist-influenced spirituality – ‘you break and everything is new’, she sings on the opening track, slyly packing rebirth, kintsugi, and Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’ into eight syllables. ‘Look Up Now’, the most straightforwardly folky moment, builds into layers of breathy resignation at her inability to stop the dawn breaking through.
It feels very easy and natural, but there’s a complexity to this record that rewards further listening; a layered density that slowly reveals more the deeper in you go.
‘Move Into The Luminous’ is out 27th October via Blackford Hill.