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These Places Are Now Ruins

  Last Days  


Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

Graham Richardson (Last Days) cuts a solitary figure. Whether trading in marine horizons or rolling countryside, this guy has the power to make you feel alone. Or at least make you feel his loneliness. Great scenery has always possessed the power to inspire and humble with equal measure. These Places are Now Ruins has the same effect. This album IS "great scenery".

Last Days came to our attention with his haunting debut album Sea, and what an unforgettable experience that record turned out to be. Weeks and months afterwards I still found myself drawn back to its sullen, siren call. The new album fits nicely alongside Sea as a companion piece -- more landlocked, yet still evocative of those same emotions that might accompany a forlorn, introspective voyage. Almost all of the 13 titles allude to travel, destinations, or stopping points in-between, These are the only literal clues given (the record remains wordless) as the listener's imagination is left to provide the storyline. Yet somehow, .Ruins feels more reflective than its predecessor. Apprehension takes a backseat to nostalgia this time around.

.Ruins is a perfect 21st Century testament to the belief that the most moving and uplifting music is often steeped in melancholy. Richardson himself describes his work as "cinematic lo-fi" and in this respect I think he trumps the writers. Cinematic lo-fi fits perfectly. With warm acoustics and rain blurred loops, Last Days has garnered all manner of (fair) comparisons with the likes of Deaf Centre, Eluvium, and even Sigur Ros (The more abstract movements of their ( ) album are a clear reference). Yet to critically dissect his music and pick over the composite pieces is arguably missing the crucial point of Last Days. It hardly matters whether Richardson makes use of acoustics or electronics, field recordings or pro-tools. Every click and whirr he employs is there for good reason and not merely out of any urge to push the technological limitations. Instead you sit back and enjoy each epic vista the music paints. Like a great author, able to create a landscape in the mind of his reader, Last Days really puts you THERE, into his world. The end result is everything to the listener. Yet ironically this is in direct contrast to the narrative content of Ruins, in which the journey is far more important than the destination.

So if These Places are Now Ruins is to the landscape what Sea was to the ocean - rugged, tempestuous and desolate, it makes for perfect listening accompaniment to a remote British winters day. At its most touching, this record serves as a reminder of the fragility of the human soul. At its bleakest, it somehow offers the unlikeliest of comfort and solace. So pull on a chunky, Argyle fisherman's sweater, light a roaring open fire and let your mind wander into Richardson's picture. These places may well now be ruins but somehow, someway everything is going to be okay.

Achingly beautiful.

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    Album: Sea


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