Sheffield, UK’s Songs of Green Pheasant strips it down from Duncan Sumpner’s Fat Cat days to a suitably lean presentation fitting the one-man band in order to amplify his multi-part bedside symphonies. ‘Soft Wounds’ offers the chamber melancholy of Pernice Brothers and Kingsbury Manx, but even less vocally ego-centric, where Sumpner plays eight songs layering (in order of taste to the tongue): acoustic guitar, lightly-tempered vocals, electric bass, piano, trumpets, and violin. Accents of electric guitar ring out like phantoms for “Deaf Sarah.” Discrete percussive elements interject silences in “Self Portrait with a Dog”, making movement like in the gapped joints of a marionette. “For People” is a tasteful baroque interlude of horns and piano like the cut-screen for some 70s BBC production. The main export of the disc is the nearly ten-minute “Flesheaters” and its coda “Sad Flowers”: paying-off on the lush overtures of the opening track, these penultimate tunes are the modern equivalence of the Beach Boys for whatever east coast glum Sheffielders are likely to attend (surely the stuff of Morrissey songs) – down-beat and harmonized vocals, discontinuous chords, mellow drums more foot than hand; never far from city centre, violins and a female accompanist sing the track out like a eulogy in a JG Ballard underpass, where the baudy-bleat of electronics melt upward like streamers from this macabre scene. Though in like company at this summer home of Rusted Rail for the overall sound and fury, Sumpner’s work is of a song-writing grade higher than experienced before on the label, and the arigato sleeve with paste-on labels fit him like a burlap sack, threatening to crumble-away at any moment. Such conventions as sleeves and inserts are tokens in the light of such brilliance. Very recommended.
Rusted Rail CD