Discus: Discus164CD

Martin Archer: concert flute, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, recorders, harmonicas, melodica, sopranino saxophone, Hulusi flute, percussion, electronics; Jan Todd: baritone psaltery, electric Harp.E, cross strung harp, tagelharpa, waterphone, Hulusi flute, cello, electronics, looping, field recordings; Fran Comyn: frame drums, gongs, cymbals, bells, bowls, hand percussion, field recordings; Richard Jackson: drums and percussion.

Recorded by Robin Downe at Yellow Arch Studio, Sheffield, 19 March 2023.

On the download of this album, there was the option to listen to the complete 12-part recording without track breaks (or to listen to each track individually). Fran Comyn’s photograph of water tumbling down a ghyll on the front of the album sleeve is perfect to illustrate the overarching sense of the music as a communing with a mystical landscape.

The band’s name is a Scandinavian word (particularly in Sweden and Norway) that echoes the English ‘fell’ and, again, the music captures the sense of moving up into the peaks of, say, the Lake District. Comyn’s percussion and field recordings bring the listener more deeply into this terrain.

This is music that requires a stillness in the listener that mirrors the terrain that it reflects, and which repays this with the richness of an ever-changing musical landscape. The repertoire of instruments that are introduced over the rhythmic textures echoes the human response to the terrain, in all its awe, wonder, fear, and joy.

I am always amazed by the ways in which a catalogue of instruments as listed for this album can create such an impression of cohesion, where each instrument is introduced to do just the right job at the right time and, often, to put one side as a different sound is needed for the next phrase.

This is not some ragbag of instruments that are pulled out of the store-room but a carefully considered selection, much as a carpenter might select precisely the right tool for a specific task so the musicians are taking the precise instrument for the precise sound at the right time.

Nothing feels superfluous and everything has its place – no matter how strange that place might appear or how peculiar the fit is between some of the sounds, everything gels in a harmonious, natural order.