Coppice Halifax – Static Pharming (Milieu Music)

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Multi-aliased and -genred Brian Grainger planned to cut his latest swatch of themed dub ambient as Coppice Halifax over the course of a year, releasing three inches a month. The gentle, palmy Melting (numbered “RX12”) should have been the last Static Pharming release, but Grainger came to feel that he was only just gaining momentum in his quest to explore new depths in dub within those narrow, twenty-minute confines. “Perhaps,” he reflected, “it is the ever-expanding and tangential aspect of Coppice Halifax as a project now, perhaps I’m just addicted to getting lost in my own forests.” And so, a second calender year´s worth of Static Pharming mini discs began with lucky number thirteen.

Grainger can slow down the heartbeat of his dub techno like a holy man, as in the meditative monsoon opening Enhasa (RX5), before spinning out in a shamanistic twirl. Or wobble and wonk through the Rube Goldberg machine clunkery of Glassed (RX6). Suncarpet (RX7) is dazzle-eyed slow burn psychedelia. German Metals is technorific, D.Y.B. is breezy, Caribbean parasailing (RX9 and 10, respectively).

Year Two of Static Pharming began with Gemstones in Ice (RX13), less a precious frozen jewel than a foreboding reaping of the whirlwind. Eluvian (RX14) is a fascinatingly slow, accumulative noir force that becomes increasingly more chilling against the backdrop of the call of a distant freight train. Scene of some terrible hobo crime? The most suggestive and narrative Static Pharming track yet. Somewhere in the midst of Cloudburst (RX17), a steel drum encourages a downpour. The tick-tock, tick-tock of High Lights (RX18) heightens the cinematic suspense of grand, sweeping string loops.

Voltaic (RX19) flows listenerward and then ebbs foamily away, as a pneumatic rhythm, the engine of a small craft hanging in dry dock, keeps time. Pol Secundo (RX20), a magnificently looming work of hollow, fallow, dark ambient with a mechanical heart, has the sky closing in on the population below. Fair skies prevail and seafaring once again, Marine Halide (RX21) is one of the sunniest, billowingest of the series.

The final trio begins with Sift, a burbling brook and the soughing of the pine treetops in gentle breeze, beats no more than distant woodpeckers. Almost an elegy. Into Fog – or perhaps mist, is the bottom of a waterfall, the spray playing a pipe organ made of hollowed-out branches, the beat wet shoe leather scuffing against smooth curved stone. The grand finale is simply titled Static Farm, “a detailed meditation on the lack of detail,” as he characterizes the series as a whole. Homesteading in the clouds, insubstantial plough cleaving through increasingly inclement skies.

Aside from Bandcamp, each piece is available on its own, or in three-work clusters, or as full-year editions. In the latter case, as respective bonuses, Grainger offers Aeriformic Forests, a huge, airy piece running over seventy-eight minutes, recorded during the first year of the Static Pharming sessions, and Lowlights, a queasy, forty-minute ambient sea shanty under a greycloud knitted sky, during the second.

All told, Grainger has so far published one hundred and twenty five titles (according to Discogs) under the Coppice Halifax moniker. This series is as good a place as any to dive in (though the multitudinousness of this body of work is so daunting, you might as well take the plunge anywhere; I first did with the magnificent Ocean Lion quartet).

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About Author

Born and raised in Toronto, Stephen Fruitman has been living in northern Sweden lo these past thirty years. Writing and lecturing about art and culture as an historian of ideas since the early nineties, his articles have appeared in an number of international publications. He is also a contributing editor at Igloo Magazine.

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