Although he was not fond of the “tag”, David Edwards’ Minotaur Shock project was at the forefront of the folktronica movement; most notably with 2001’s ‘Chiff-Chaffs And Willow Warblers’. Since then, the Bristol musician has released new solo material on an increasingly sporadic basis, although his imprint remains on newer faces such as Giraffage and Zoon van snooK. ‘Orchard’, the first Minotaur Shock album in four years, is less a case of how it used to be done but more a case of how it should be done now.
Edwards’ style is actually quite innocent in its approach; very much like a child let loose in a room full of instruments. The melodies are bright, colourful and almost old fashioned in their execution. Opener ‘Janet’ is a parade of beats, keyboards, chimes and general joie de vivre with only its ornate core tune keeping things from getting too bouncy, then halfway through the piece turns into a guitar/violin partnership that is relaxed and beautifully performed. ‘Ocean Swell’, ‘Quint’ and ‘Westonbirt’ engage on a deeper level and seem altogether more urgent; their many layers folding back to reveal instrumental mysteries and curiosities with the latter even taking on IDM and – in electronica terms – “owning it”. ‘Too Big To Quit’, meanwhile, is reminiscent of the 70’s folk of Mike Oldfield or – to give a more seasonal comparison – Greg Lake’s ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’.
As with many other Minotaur Shock releases, the initial impact of the tracks are light and breezy. Yet as the listener grows into the record, the attention to detail becomes more obvious and the music moves from mildly quirky background fare to foreground music which demands attention. Needless to say, it’s great to have Mr. Edwards back.
Zoon van snooK, Giraffage, Four Tet