It’s hard for me to resist a band with name like “A Broken Consort”, but it didn’t give me a clear idea of what to expect.. I approached this album, Crow Autumn, with no expectations.
The packaging is an attractive sepia photograph of antique keys, and an accompanying booklet is mostly more of the same photographer’s work. Feathers, shells, leaves; the grain of weathered wood. Twelve pages, twelve images, one page dusted with a scattering of words: fragments from a poem whose credit appears on the back cover. Not a lot of hints as to the sound to be gleaned there; nothing for it but to take a listen.
Crow Autumn opens with a low-key, minor play of strings, an unobtrusive background against which most of the accents are soft touches that you might not hear if you weren’t listening for them. That’s how it opens, and in fact that’s pretty much the whole album, as it happens. I found myself listening to track 4, “Mountains Ash” (sic), before I realised that we were past track 1, “Day Reveals”. The whole album seems to ride on a single chord, which doesn’t actually sound so monotonous as you might expect.
Still, you’re not going to get up and dance to this album; and you’re not going to go away whistling any themes. Ambient music for quiet conversations or soundtrack material for a good book, in our house Crow Autumn is probably going to wind up categorised as massage therapy music for my wife’s practise. Music that can be deeply soothing without being completely boring is a little hard to come by, so it’s no insult when I say I’ll be glad to add this album to the massage collection. At the same time, it’s not exactly the highest artistic praise I can render, either.
(Tompkins Square, 2010)