Cinematic monologues of places you may never visit.
Having discovered them earlier this year via their stunning album ‘Overwinter‘, Grasscut has followed up their album with ‘Haunts’. The six track EP is a high concept collection of cinematic spoken word pieces about various places in the UK. It is a brooding, mysterious and cinematic collection that transforms the spoken word into something quite spectacular.
Each track features a spokesperson speaking about their place. ‘Inchkeith Island’ for example has a Scottish lady talking about how she is desperate to go to the island that is not an island. Their spoken words often sound like they are piped through a telephone line, giving the speakers a slightly eerie quality to them. Grasscut leans into this by then scoring each song with a pensive, dramatic chamber of instruments. ‘The Garden’ has a curious piano run as taut strings stab towards you slowly. All this is underscored with bird song and slow meticulous wiry bass synths.
‘The Pull’ deals with dreamy nostalgia of a woman’s recollections of a childhood play area. Except that play area is now a river that’s ready to burst and it feels like the place could lose some of its beauty to fierce power. The soft piano and hazy effects give just a taint of unease to the memories too. ‘Seacliff’ uses a dulcitone – a piano-like instrument that uses tuning forks to sound like a music box. Adding the otherworldly samples of 1950s contralto Kathleen Ferrier like a theremin banshee to the background makes the track feel especially haunted. ‘Human Estuary’ is a lush wind arrangement that feels expansive yet trapped in its own world. Closer ‘Witley Common’ has a chamber orchestration that feels ominous and foreboding as the speaker talks about the quiet of the common itself.
According to Grasscut, these samples were collected back in 2015 for their album ‘Everyone was a Bird’. The idea was to create a single track but now, six years later, a lot of these people probably haven’t been able to visit their regular haunts. I really connected with the idea that in some way, these places around the UK probably feel haunted by their isolation. We, in turn, are haunted by the inability to visit and reconnect with them again. There is something incredibly poetic and hypnotic about the whole project and what Grasscut has done with it is phenomenal. Highly recommended for any fans of cinematic, chamber or experimental music that makes you feel.
Recommended track: Inchkeith Island
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