Appliance was one of the great lost Mute acts of the mid-to-late 90s, whose quartet of classic titles for Daniel Miller’s long-running label is in dire need of a revisiting (, especially for the folks who fancy the likes of Animal Collective as quality modern rock these days.
Since the English post-rock act’s dissolution in 2003, Appliance’s chief creator James Brooks has entrenched himself in the UK art world with his groundbreaking audio-visual exhibitions. But the inventive guitarist returns to Mute with the debut LP from his new solo project Land Observations, which picks up where his old group left off on the seven-minute epic “Derailleur, King of the Mountain” from 2000’s Six Modular Pieces with the kind of exploratory instrumental music of which we only wish Appliance recorded more.
Roman Roads IV – XI marks the first time he has melded his two creative worlds together to deliver a masterpiece of cross-conceptualism. The eight compositions at the table were crafted at Brooks’ East London flat with a treated electric guitar and were inspired by the ancient thoroughfares the Roman Empire paved at the height of their powers, many of which lead to England, including Kingsland Road, Chester Road and Watling Street.
It is a stunning concept where Brooks creates these circular, repetitive loops of layered arpeggios and drone-like harmonics akin to some kind of mind meld between Warm and Cool-era Tom Verlaine and Robert Fripp’s time alongside Brian Eno that channels the psychogeography of each road he studied for this record and delivered with a hypnotic warmth unlike anything you’ve really ever heard before.
What James Brooks has accomplished as Land Observations should easily make Roman Roads IV – XI a record anyone in tune with the works of such new school guitar giants as Christian Fennesz and Dustin Wong must hear now.
DOWNLOAD: “Before the Kingsland Road”, “Battle of Watling Street” —RON HART