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July Skies - The English Cold

  by Chris Jones

published: 18 / 4 / 2005

July Skies - The English Cold
Label: Make Mine Music
Format: CD


Haunting, eccentric post rock from July Skies, the solo project of Avrocar's Anthony Harding, dedicated to airmen killed during the Second World War

"For lost airmen" - this is the message/dedication on the back cover of the second release by July Skies. And it is also the theme of this album by Anthony Harding (also in Avrocar). The idea of an album based around the lives and deaths of British airmen during the second world war seems a bit strange. A book, movie or documentary would be a more typical way to cover this topic, but then Harding's music has yet to be something typical. Upon first listening to the album, this theme did not jump out from the music. The gentleness of the guitar and drones, the way in which the music felt very full yet sparse, the epic reverb of single notes that seemed to hang in the air for minutes, these were what jumped out. Reading the liner notes and the song titles and then listening to the album again, however, gave new sensations. The songs felt more sombre and reflective than before and it was easy to feel a sense of isolation that one could experience while flying solo in a plane. Thousands of feet above the ground, part of something so large as to make each individual seem insignificant, while also knowing that your very actions could have a huge impact on the lives of so many. Given the nature of the music and the theme, one might expect the songs to be long pieces that drifted through many phases. Yet the songs are relatively short and it is more the album as a whole that drifts though many phases. This seemed to give the album a faster pace than the individual songs actually had. Whereas some pastoral / ambient songs can go on to the point of being a bit tedious, the songs on this album don't suffer that fate while still being able to develop somewhat slowly. I'm not sure how Anthony Harding chose the theme of lost airmen - a grandfather or some family connection, geographical significance, a historical interest. Given that he is also in a band called Avrocar, it seems that flying machines and those that fly them are something he is drawn to. Regardless of the reason,Harding has created an album that moves gracefully through thin air, rising and descending through clouds and over fields. Not everyone returned from these flights, but their memory hangs suspended like the notes from Harding's guitar.

Track Listing:-
1 Farmers and Villagers Living Within the Shadow of Aerodromes
2 The English Cold
3 The Mighty 8th
4 Countryside of 1939
5 Strangers in Our Lanes
6 East Anglian Skies
7 Death Was Where Your Sky Was
8 They Played in the Harvest Fields At Dusk
9 Cloudless Climes and Starry Skies
10 Waiting to Land
11 Lost Airmen
12 August Country Fires
13 Faded Generation

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Interview (2006)
July Skies - Interview
In all of its recordings ambient act July Skies, the project of Antony Harding has demonstrated a a deep aching longing and sad nostalgia for the past of the last century. With July Skies' fourth album 'The Weather Clock' due out in the spring, John Clarkson talks to Antony Harding abouthis group


The Weather Clock (2008)
Reverent and thoughtful largely instrumental fourth album from July Skies, the project of Antony Harding, which with evocative tenderness displays a deep longing for the past
Where the Days Go (2006)

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