I love their music and the way they release it, but I don't know much about them.
I sent off for a CD, Trough of Bowland, soon after its release in 2005 without having heard any of it. A review in The Wire caught my eye because (a) my kids were briefly Woodcraft Folk and (b) I grew up in Lancashire next door to the Trough of Bowland. My impeccable logic was justified. The album is an alluring mixture of squelchy synths, cheap Casio electronics, xylophone and other acoustic instruments, and occasional wordless vocals. It's charming and catchy, like incidental music for Children's Hour - in an alternate universe.
And it came in a nice limited edition - card sleeve, intriguing art, inserts. The dread CD can be made into an attractive artefact if you really try...
So I was all set up to be a fan. What's next? Well, nothing very obvious. I kept my ear to the ground and googled them occasionally, but there didn't seem to be much activity. Just one track on a 10" EP, It Happened On A Day, which also featured the mighty Tunng and three other acts. Then, out of the blue, I happened to see a vinyl reissue of the original album a year or so ago. Beautifully done, nice to have - but how about something new? Further silence.
Which was broken last month when I happened on a recent 45 'Quiet, Birds Have Ears' b/w 'At Home With Howls'. Worth the price of admission for the titles, I'd say, but the music's fine too: some added drive from Trough, with more use of real drums and something approaching a Krautrock pulse - and someone singing words - on 'Howls'. And yes, fellow fetishists, the packaging is admirable: pressed on half white, half clear, vinyl with an insert of some spirograph patterns. Not your everyday sort of record.
All strongly recommended, if you can find any or all of single, LP and CD.
And also recommended is splendid bespoke record label Great Pop Supplement, where Dom eschews CDs and downloads and focuses on putting out desirable vinyl. I'm also enjoying his releases from Trimdon Grange Explosion (great folk-rock from former members of The Eighteenth Day of May) and an EP from Karen Novotny X (80s electronic stuff).