Imagine the textured, aerated drones of Sky Margin (Own Records, 2013) and the pastoral romanticism of Along the Mantic Spring (Infraction, 2014) fused into a single amalgam and then elevated into a dazzling, symphonic edifice of sound. Avifaunal is the brand new lush and expansive musical narrative created by Alex Smalley (aka Olan Mill) and Simon Bainton under their collaborative moniker of Pausal now out on Dronarivm. The grandiosity of the new record has its origins in a live performance a couple of years prior at a venue which invited experimentation on a large sonic scale.
In 2015 the band were asked by Martin Boulton of Touched Music to perform in Pembrokeshire, Wales and set about generating new material for the show. It was also an opportunity to develop a new equipment setup including looped turntable, voice microphones and synths. A local hall was hired for improvisation and practice sessions which provided an interesting sonic space to explore and possibilities to work at far louder volumes, both of which helped shape the eventual live set and the track “Murmuration” as that is represented here. “Spiral”, “Scatter” and “Soar” were also edited and assembled from the recording sessions around this time.
Often when only one or two musicians are generating sounds in this format they either take an intimate approach or succumb to the temptation to overwhelm with volume. Pausal does neither. Instead Bainton and Smalley build and intertwine layers of sound into rich overlapping strands that emanate their own power. Viewed as a whole, “Murmuration”, which is offered in three separate but contiguous movements on the record, is simply a magnificent, sprawling piece of orchestral proportions and with a scintillating undercurrent, a motif which is echoed in more concise & restrained form on the lovely closing track “Soar”. Ensconced in between are a pair of beguiling soundscapes – the foggy swirls of “Spiral” and the shimmering metallic abstractions of “Scatter”. The dizzying heights of inspiration scaled by Avifaunal make it an equally cerebral and exhilarating journey.
Avifaunal is available as a limited edition CD or digital download directly from Dronarivm. It can also be ordered in a special bundle with Smalley’s Olan Mill release on the label entitled Cavade Morlem, though only a handful of these remain available at this writing. The striking cover art was created by Smalley and Maria A. Schmidt and sound artist extraordinaire Porya Hatami provided the mastering.