Martyn Bates & Alan Trench as Twelve Thousand Days
The Devil in the Grain
(TRI 108/EFA 16918-2, August 17 2001, Cd)
by Mark Weddle (Brainwashed, January 19 2002)
Martyn Bates (Eyeless in Gaza) and Alan Trench (Orchis) return with their second album as Twelve Thousand Days.
Unlike their 2000 debut In the Garden of Wild Stars which featured some traditional arrangements and excerpts of Alfred Lord Tennyson and W. B. Yates, “Devil” is entirely composed by Bates/Trench. But the poet laureate spirit remains strong in Bates precious words and delivery. I often find the music and mix of his projects, especially this one, an annoying obstacle between his wondrous voice and myself. Here it’s bothersome with headphones but without it works just fine. The ten songs are a pretty, sort of mystical and medieval folk with acoustic guitars, unidentified drones, flute and tambourine, often drenched in reverb. “Glistening Praise” and the title track are the lengthiest, the latter over 10 minutes, and they veer off into valleys of instrumental atmospherics. Near the end “The Hand of Glory” disrupts everything, unfortunately, with a blast of electrified guitar noise. But the final track “Plea” placates my own plea by showcasing only the vocal. At first I didn’t think this album compared to my favorite Bates work, such as Dance of Hours and the Murder Ballads and Chamber Music series, but it continues to grow on me.
by LP (Judas Kiss, 2006?)
Before the CD has even left the jewel case that houses it, you get a sense of what the music contained here will sound like due to the presentation of the artwork that has an overtly pagan, new-age feel to it. Pictures of ancient runes surrounded by explosions of blues and purples with a shadowed dancer, it’s all very relaxed yet tinged with mystery and intrigue, which pretty much personifies the music it accompanies. Mournful neo-folk with an overtly paganistic feel forms the main crux of what Twelve Thousand Days are all about. Played on a cavalcade of traditional instruments, the mood is one of a mournful nature, but still has an oddly uplifting; warm feel that ebbs forth as the music slowly unfurls itself. This coupled with the seemingly effortless vocals of Martyn Bates (he of Eyeless in Gaza fame) create timeless snippets of British neo-folk music, in a traditional sense of the word as apposed to post-industrial. It’ll come as no surprise to find out that Alan trench of excellent neo-folk/pagan Orchis is responsible for supplying the instrumentation here and explains why musically Orchis and Twelve Thousand Days aren’t a million miles apart from one another in both sound and atmosphere, although the latter does lack the addictively sensual quality that Orchis exhibits, however if Orchis appeals to your tastes then it pretty much goes without saying that this release will act as the perfect accompaniment to what they offer.