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Autumn Chorus: The Village to the Vale

Most music can be placed somewhere on a scale between terrible and amazing; we listen to it and either enjoy it or dislike it to some extent. However, every so often an album comes along that is so special, so meaningful, and so breathtaking that it moves beyond such simple assessment. Rather than hear the music, we experience it – it overwhelms us with its beauty, feeling, and technique to the point of changing who we are. The Village to the Vale, the debut album by Autumn Chorus, is such a record.

Formed a few years ago and classifying itself as post-rock/post-classical, the English quartet consists of Robbie Wilson, Luke Foster, Peter Evans, and Chris Lloyd. On this album, they also use several guest musicians, and their instruments include trumpet, organ, glockenspiel, thumb piano, and wine glass. In essence, The Village to the Vale combines sorrowful lyrics, delicate vocals, magnificent orchestration, restrained dynamics, and tinges of post/progressive rock instrumentation to create a sound that "evokes timeless stories, but with the intimacy and heart of a whispered secret amongst friends. " Similar to two other emotionally devastating albums this year— Gazpacho's March of Ghosts and Anathema's Weather SystemsThe Village to the Vale evokes something deep and powerful within the listener. It is a priceless work of art.

Like the two aforementioned albums, as well as countless other gems, The Village to the Vale is best thought of as a single statement broken into parts. While it's consistently incredible from beginning to end, a few moments do stand out. The lone opening melody of "Three Jumps the Devil" is immediately arresting and moving, and the way the other instruments explode on top of it after a little while is amazing. It's clear from the start at this album is something unique, and once Wilson's extremely fragile and pained vocals and lyrics come in, the glorious grief increases even more. His melodies are lovely and the way the orchestration matches its intensity to his words is precise and dazzling, as is everything else on display here.

Elsewhere, "Thief" incorporates more acoustic guitar and flutes, making the music more folky and accessible. Near the middle of the track, the percussion and arrangements venture into progressive rock territory a bit, which is a nice surprise. It's still very much rooted in vintage English blankets, though, and the synthesis of the harmonies and instrumentation is wonderful. Arguably the best moment on The Village to the Vale is "Brightening Sky"; its parts, such as male and female vocals, piano, and horns, as well as its melodies, are absolutely blissful. Lyrically, Autumn Chorus shines brighter than ever here, too, with sentiments such as "There's nothing better than a dream that never ends. I guess this is love. It's nothing better than what I've been dreaming of" invoking the naturalistic romanticism of poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge. Also, "Rosa," at over sixteen minutes in length, is the album's most epic and ambitious track, and not a second is wasted as it juxtaposes crescendos and silence to leave listeners breathless, broken, and baffled by its brilliance.

The Village to the Vale is one of the most important, stunning, affective, and powerful albums I've ever heard. It's damn near impossible to describe it justly; words simply can't express how unique, touching, and gorgeous it is. How the instruments crash and then still, how Wilson's voice is probably the most fragile and pained vocal I've ever heard, and just how each element is always perfectly chosen. It's often too easily to hyperbolize when discussing art, but I don't think I can here—every second of this record is an awe-inspiring gift. It's as close to a musical form of Heaven as anything else I've ever encountered, plain and simple. Few artists ever create true masterpieces, and even fewer do it on their first try. With The Village to the Vale, Autumn Chorus definitely has. Please, please, please do not let this one go by unnoticed.

Track Listing

1. Three Jumps the Devil
2. You'll Wait Forever
3. Never Worry
4. Thief
5. Brightening Sky
6. Rosa
7. Bye Bye Now

Added: December 10th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 3791
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Autumn Chorus: The Village to the Vale
Posted by Jordan Blum on 2012-12-11 20:53:12
My Score:

Thanks! Yeah, it's stunning. The shame of it is that I already voted on my Best of list for another site (Popmatters) before discovering this. This will definitely make my SOT list, though. I can't promote it enough.

Autumn Chorus: The Village to the Vale
Posted by Kevin Rolfe on 2012-12-11 18:08:20
My Score:

Wonderful review and I'm glad that others are discovering this masterpiece! This is easily my album of the year and is trying to break into my all time favorites. It can't really be compared to anything else. A stunning record!

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