See: Adam Stafford – ‘Threnody For February Swallows’: grand avant-classical minimalism cautions against climate change

Adam Stafford, photographed by David P Scott

FALKIRK’S Adam Stafford, the film-maker and folk artist whose lockdown notebook album Diamonds Of A Horse Famine we warmly embraced here last summer – not least because it contained the free-associating “Erotic Thistle” and its fantastic line, surely worthy of some kind of award (and culled from a real life story), “melt down my death mask to fashion it into a dildo” (read our full review here) – has returned with a swerve further into leftfield, away from a core folk-blues palette and more towards an avant-classical and electronica album themed around the climate crisis, entitled Trophic Asynchrony (the phenomena whereby interacting species shift out of phase due to environmental stressors, a process thought to be accelerating due to climate change).

He’s just released the second single from it, “Threnody For February Swallows”, and Adam summates the track, quite simply, as “a lament for the environment”. It’s so different from the stripped back folk of Diamonds … and presents as a Moondog-like odyssey of organ, bells, an ambience with some of that neo-churchiness you get on occasion from Boards of Canada, spiralling away into cyclical minimalism, ever shifting through new phases, layering and grand. It’s a deep, a hallowed and enchanting music.

“Threnody for February Swallows” comes accompanied by a supremely eerie edit by Leo Bruges, director of photography on Adam’s award-winning short film The Shutdown, of Dr Wise On Influenza (1919): the only known British film known to be made at the height of the Spanish flu epidemic, when about 2,500 were dying each week in London alone. With all the haunting nature of the silent movie-era aesthetic and that back story, it adds a supremely unsettling dimension to a tune that has a musical and thematic correspondence with Philip Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi, in a place where that track consorts with incidental music from The Exorcist.

The new single follows the eerie toybox melodies of the previous single, “Ruptured Telecine”, which comes with a video inspired by the present day cult of disinformation, QAnon, the paranoiac YouTube polemicist and the like. You can watch that here.

Adam Stafford’s Trophic Asynchrony will be released digitally by Song, By Toad Records on July 9th, with a rather gorgeous orange-inside-lemon vinyl pressing to follow in the autumn; both are available to pre-order now over at the label’s Bandcamp page.

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