England’s faded architecture has become a popular source of inspiration for musicians in recent years. Indeed, labels such as Wayside and Woodland and Home Assembly Music have almost made it their business to despair of the crumble and fall of once-majestic buildings. Hibernate Recordings are specialists in this area too and there are few better equipped artists than Durham’s David Newlyn to convey such a “celebration of dereliction”.
Evoking faded nostalgia is familiar territory for Newlyn, having covered similar ground on his 2007 album, ‘Ancient Lights’. On that occasion, the subject matter was Northern England nostalgia communicated via the medium of electronica but ‘Distintegrating Suburban Dream’ is more reliant on acoustic arrangements, with the source being Newlyn’s fascination with photographing abandoned buildings. ‘Longer Days’ begins like an end with a forlorn, tired-sounding piano and a distant violin playing on defiantly to an oblivious chattering public. ‘No Rest In The Silence’ could almost be a comment on this chatter but the piano continues to play on prettily and sadly.
The album gradually brings in more ambience and field recordings, most memorably on the chilly ‘(Possibly) Subsequent Disorientation’ and ‘Moon’ and continuing the darker themes right through to the suggestively eerie ‘Walking In The Dark’. In between, the stark ‘Rule Of Thirds’ threatens to turn into ‘Gymnopédie No. 1’ and therefore leaning perhaps towards the modern classical flavours of Newlyn’s most recent recordings but the sense of despair is still a constant, hanging particular heavy on a poignant ‘Feeling No Remorse Must Be A Blessing’. In fact, only on the final track, ‘Winterheight’, is there an indication that better times may still lie ahead.
Given the melancholic nature of this record, ‘Disintegrating Suburban Dream’ could have been a bleak, uncomfortable affair. However, the memories brought to the fore are delivered sensitively; fully appreciating the former beauty and grander times for the locations remembered.
Library Tapes, The Montgolfier Brothers, Caught In The Wake Forever, Fieldhead