Grey Reverend, Of The Days

Joe Muggs

By Joe Muggs

on 07.11.11 in Reviews

The past few years have seen an uptick in entirely acoustic records made by predominantly electronic artists. Gravenhurst on WARP, Jose Gonzalez on Peacefrog, and Fink on Ninja Tune have all recently made folk-influenced acoustic music that gazed backward to John Martyn, Tim Buckley and Nick Drake, but boasted a distinct, understated modernism that fit surprisingly tidily alongside their electronic labelmates. And it’s into that company that LD Brown, aka Grey Reverend — on Motion Audio, part of the Ninja Tune family– now enters.

His music is minimal in the extreme. The most obvious comparison is perhaps with Jose Gonzalez, in that both excel at perfect repetition in guitar fingerpicking and have a velvet vocal tone that never cracks or rises, but leads you to some strange emotional states nonetheless. Grey Reverend is even more understated than Gonzalez, and there is an abstracted sense to Of The Days that marks out a singular territory. Brown takes the very simplest of musical and lyrical shapes and repeats, reassesses and rearranges them until they create a pure geometry of their own, removed from quotidian reality.

Of The Days is full of odd symmetries, both in the way the guitar lines step or ripple up and down around a root note and in the pensive wordplay of the lyrics. He will often use familiar phrases, and reflect them against apparent opposites to bring out complexities of meaning. Thus “Ain’t it something / that we got nothing / to say” and “You can keep it in / or you can take it out / on me”: each time conjuring a strange little moment of personal interplay. Combined with the hypnotic linearity of the music, it lends the album a puzzle-like quality, or perhaps a maze; an invitation to get absorbed in its interlocking, never-resolving riddles.