A Sense of Place: Haunts by Grasscut

In 2015, Brighton duo Grasscut released Everyone Was A Bird, an album author Robert Macfarlane tells us in his liner note essay was “born of footfall”. Its eight pieces explored places important to composer Andrew Phillips and writer/musician Marcus O’Dair from the north coast of Jersey or a fallow field in the South Downs of Sussex to a decommissioned nuclear power station in Wales. Extending this concept beyond themselves, a unique one-off collaboration was offered to listeners and fans inviting them to share their own reflections on places of significance to them in the form of voicemail messages, the idea being that one would be selected and turned into a spoken word track scored by the band. Instead, we are told, that as the messages came in there was a realization that the richness of what had been submitted was such that it became clear this would need to be a more substantial project.

And that is how six years later the mini-album called Haunts has come to be. It features six voice recordings referencing places from Scotland’s Firth of Forth to Witley Common in Surrey. Composed and orchestrated by Phillips, the music is performed by Grasscut along with clarinettist Nick Moss, and violinist Daniel Phillips along with discrete samples & field recordings and, in a clever touch, even the striking of a beached metal sea buoy on the Isle of Skye by designer & frequent collaborator Pedr Browne for “Inchkeith Island”.

As an added treat, we have here an exclusive preview of a video created by Andrew Phillips for the penultimate track called “The Pull”, a wistful reminiscence of childhood haunts revisited from an adult perspective and framed by lovely piano lines flowing in cadence with the words to dramatic effect. The piece is emblematic of the beautiful relationship between words and music that Grasscut has cultivated so as transform each message into a narrative that becomes both poetic and poignant.

It’s strange to visit a place you knew so well in childhood and as an adult you have a completely different understanding of what the place is…

excerpt from “The Pull”

Links: Bandcamp | Grasscut | Lo Recordings

Haunts is now available from Lo Recordings on CD & digital as well as limited 10-inch lathe cut vinyl edition (50 copies). Also be sure not to miss Grasscut’s recent full-length release Overwinter which comes in several specially designed editions and a companion release of all instrumental versions.

Little did any of us know, back in 2015, that, in 2021, we would have spent a year dreaming of places we were unable to go to.


More by Grasscut

“The Branches of the Tree” from Overwinter

“Return of the Sun – Instrumental” from Overwinter Instrumentals

“Red Kite” from Everyone Was a Bird