Field Lines Cartographer - Under the Radar

  by Keith How

published: 29 / 10 / 2020

Field Lines Cartographer - Under the Radar

In our 'Under the Radar' section this month Keith How finds 'The Spectral Isle', the new album from Field Lines Cartographer to be an impressive, fascinating and fulfilling listen.


Field Lines Cartographer is the project of Mark Burford who has been quietly going about his business of releasing a series of superb albums of electronic beauty. Lancastrian Burford has featured on various compilation albums including the 'A Year in the Country' project where I first fell upon his music. My ears pricked up when I heard of a new album, 'The Spectral Isle', and after a little exploration I discovered this new creation was based on an ancient legend. The island of Hy-Brasil is (apparently) situated 200 miles off the West Coast of Ireland and featured on nautical maps until the 1800s. Legend has it that the island appears out of the mists of time once every seven years. One rare report from a landing in 1674 recounts a castle, a magician and large black rabbits. Enough to stir anyone’s creative juices and imagination! The vinyl version is housed in sumptuous packaging and artwork created by Nick Taylor. The disc itself is “splattered” in seafoam and rust reflecting the sea, altogether a lovely thing and totally reflective of the music Side A contains two tracks ‘Magic Lanterns’ and ‘Sighted Through the Fog’ and represents a voyage to the island. At eleven minutes long the opener is full of gentle synth tones reflecting a buoyant sea voyage full of wonder and hope. Bringing a sense of foreboding and mystery, with “Fog” you can sense the wind and waves and a feeling of being lost. The deep sub harmonic tones are warning you not to land on Hy-Brasil. Rippling electronic tones swirl and echo around as we appear to be actually enfolded in this otherworldly ambient mist. Side B sees the arrival of much darker tones and atmospheres. ‘Black Rabbits’ suggests some ancient ritual and otherworldly goings-on. Odd bleeps and strange sounds, along with what could be ghostly voices whispering in the quiet rolling atmosphere are created by the restrained electronics. Nothing here is hurried and the listener is almost hypnotised into the dark pulses of 'The Castle'. Here you sense something hidden in the less restful textures that slowly fade into a quieter drone that still contains a sense of uncertainty. Lastly, 'The Hall of Eyes' seems to send out some kind of sonic warning. A recurring motif seems to hang in the air over swathes of ambient noise. I can’t get the idea out of my head that this is some sort of distress signal or cosmic homing beam! I love this album. Full of mystery and wonder what we have here is a sonic masterpiece and an album to be totally immersed in.

Also In Under the Radar

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Field Lines Cartographer - Under the Radar

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