Paul Elam first came to my attention earlier in 2009 as a member of The Declining Winter. Now the Leeds-based artist sets his course for a solo ambient project. Taking a similar approach to music as Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, Elam’s theory is that “a note is only there because it has to be”. Elam is true to his word but still manages to create some deeply evocative soundscapes.
‘This Train Is A Rainbow’ sets the agenda for the glitchy electronica and tape hiss that become notable features throughout the album. For ‘Document One’, some low-slung guitar work and warm ambient textures form a melody that is almost comforting. Listening to ‘Of October’ at the end of this month makes perfect sense and it’s infused with an appropriate chill factor that promises another cold English Winter. Meanwhile, mournful strings underscore the dark loveliness of ‘He’d Found The Sea’ and ‘Songs Well Known’.
‘They Shook Hands For Hours’ never comes close to being the highbrow exercise in experimentation it could have been. Instead, Elam always manages to convey emotions and there’s a constant sense of loneliness and despair to these tracks. In fact, one could imagine this album being the perfect accompaniment to walking through disused buildings on a cold autumnal day in Yorkshire.
Northerner, The Declining Winter, Hood