The Memory Band
(On The Chalk "Our Navigation Of The Line of The Downs")
Folk, Ambient, Jazz
The Memory Band is an English folk group that was developed in 2003 by musician and songwriter Stephen Cracknell. His project consists of various artists throughout the years and has put out four albums to date. The previous albums are more traditional in the sense of folk music; they are very compelling and stripped down while providing great story telling, however, there is a sense of improvisation to them. His latest release, 2013’s On the Chalk…, we hear a moodier and more experimental sound than his previous work. It has a sense of loneliness and is somewhat calming. We also hear some jazz influences thrown into the mix as well, making this a very unique and satisfying listen.
We begin our experience with the sounds of static and nature, than some electronic bass dubbed over sheep sounds and rural voices appear and the female vocalist is strong and well suited for this intro. The track is called "The Wearing of the Horns (Weyhill on My Mind)" and it’s a prefect opener to this album. On "I See Cuckoo," the piano sets the tone, as there are more sampling of voices beneath this mid-tempo jazzy affair. Moving onto "When I Was on Horseback", it’s a bit lighter than the two previous tracks as we hear some chants, giving the album just more captivating depth. With "Follow the Sarsen Stones" a splendid trumpet leads the way along with the ever-so catchy percussion and low-toned synths, making for a pleasant listen through headphones.
The carefree "On Dancing Hill" steals us away for a moment from the moodier side of the album, than gives way to the somber "What Blood is This," this track just makes you feel an bit lonely, but not in a bad way, it’s very calming and endearing. "Along the Sunken Lanes" is more vibrant and uplifting, we love the acoustics and bass in this track. The rhythm along with the sounds of children playing leaves you with a sense of peace. "As I Walked Over Salisbury Plain" is more of this somber, transient, folk music, this track will put you in a slight haze, as the piano and bass feed off each other very well. "Facing the Granite Country" has a Junip, indie music feel and closing the album is "Where the River Meets the Sea," this somber track is dreamlike and just fades out to nothing.
The Memory Band has an album here that will stick with you as Stephen Cracknell injects some refreshing musical concepts within the folk genre. With ambient sounds and renewed musical ideas, he can take this project anywhere, the doors are wide open. We will keep a pulse on The Memory Band and see what the future holds, for now, let’s just take it all in. - 4/2/2014
Standout Tracks: Along the Sunken Lanes, Follow the Sarsen Stones