Boomkat Product Review:
Restlessly imaginative UK producer Kirk Barley marks a decade since his debut as Bambooman with an absorbing evolution of his anachronistic world-building, influenced by the way rural England is snagged between the arcane and modern - RIYL early AFX, Anthony Manning, Jon Hassell, Christos Chondropoulos.
On ‘Marionette’ Barley explores the themes of 2019’s preceding ‘Landscapes’ with a more ergot-accentuated glisten across eight tracks imbued with a soulfully melodic warmth and playful rhythms that link all his aliases. This is Barkley firmly in album mode, as opposed to the Mark Fell or Rian Treanor-esque club music of his shorter form works. In this style he pursues an expressive nuance of microtone and texture that subtly gets under the skin as he attempts to evoke a nostalgia for his native Yorkshire that also resonates with Moon Wiring Club’s retroactivation of Victorian architecture and its ghosts, and other nooks of rural England such as the rolling scapes of Cornwall, and its pagan past, that surface in Richard D. James’ music or Irdial’s charms.
Call it hauntological if you like, but ‘Marionette’ is mercifully free of more cloying ’70s chuff, instead given to an imaginary timeline where ye olde Yorkshire landscapes are synthesised with traces of the migrant communities that now inhabit them, enriching their demographies with new flavours and tales from afar. We hear that at play between the the kosmische marimba that opens out on ‘Nectar’ thru the gauzy mesh of 4th world pastoralism to ‘Gate’ reminding us of Christos Chondropoulos via Anthony Manning. Elegant chamber music explores alternate tunings in the meeting place of ’Courtyard’ and ‘Seafarer sounds like a Hassell shanty carried on a south westerly, while the music box melody of the title tune melts on the mind. His rhythmic urges come up most beautifully in the spangled jazz fray of ‘The Night’, and the tongue-tip, gooseberry jam bittersweetness of ‘Kites’ sees it off with an economy of elements primed for his Yorkshire environs.