Music Reviews
By the Roads and the Fields

Crescent By the Roads and the Fields

(Fat Cat) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

Crescent are part of the Bristol post-rock scene that revolved around the Planet Records label and included artists like Flying Saucer attack and Movietone, who also lend members to this four-piece. Now on the frighteningly productive Brighton label FatCat, most famously represented by the coldest band in rock, Sigur Ros, Crescent have been plying their singular and innovative trade for nigh on ten years, specialising in home-made and found instruments, improvised and budgetless recordings and observational, situationist-inspired lyrical rambles. Live they cut a murky, quietly intense figure, most strikingly represented by monotone singer Matt Jones and a bassist playing an instrument shaped like a Faulkner-esque coffin.

Musically Cresent are innovative, rambling and surprising, at their best somewhere between Pram and Neu. Unfortunately on many tracks here their dirge-rock tendencies dominate. Such is the case on track 1, spring, which echoes Joy Division's monotone emotional greyness without any of the punk urgency. new leaves and fountains similarly lack passion, although their jazzy volutes and excursions suggest a passionate collection of everyday fragments. straight line, a central track, takes the experimentalism into spiralling woodwind lines. Sadly though, mimosa is as soporific as the name suggests, despite its experimental percussion and Breton sounds. river debris is more soulful, full of horns in a trip into warmer, Mississippi-coloured lands, and mica is another strong track, inspired by Oriental jazz and chimes. The album closes on structure and form, a manifesto for their work, where Jones's plateau-flat voice finds its soul in an affecting lyrical performance that's backed by a murky, French-experimental pastoral sprawl.

By the Roads and the Fields is an ambitious album, full of ideas and detail. In its instrumental fearlessness it follows the experimental pioneer work of classical composers such as Lygeti and Debussy, or jazz geniuses like Keith Jarrett. Sadly though, too much of the album is funereal and dirge-like, without any of the necessary passion, and although several tracks stand out, much will pass you by like another spring shower.