The weirdly familiar cross of open-mindedness and ingenuity typical of Darren Tate’s solo outings is shown once more in A Strange Artifact, a not-always-quiet adventure constructed with a few instruments, the customary circumstantial participations of extraneous noises that become fundamental as the composition goes on, and Tate’s visionary reliability. The humanity, honesty and Franciscan nobility of the sonic landscapes offered by this reclusive man from Acomb, Yorkshire have been a proverbial aid for this writer’s wish of forgetting pre-digested music, nowadays remorselessly thrown up upon my patience’s finest tablecloths. Contrariwise, such a kind of album tickles the will of coming back time and again to find us absorbed by moods that only a talented artisan like Mr. Tate is able to suggest.
The first half of the CD is branded by the almost autistic undulation of a harmonium (or is this the accordion that Darren’s late neighbour Kathleen Vance left to him?), its animation underlined by an incomprehensible background hiss, probably of mechanical derivation. Halfway through the program we acknowledge the entrance – and persistence – of a meowing slide guitar and the scattered appearances of barely traceable radio snippets mixed with remote urban disturbance, the whole assuming the semblance of an abstract picture emphasized by the stable presence of an earth loop’s hum and outlandish echoes, a sort of pictorial representation of the world as equalized from within a drain hole. The general sound is transformed in an environment of sparsely peek-a-boo-ing ghosts whose immateriality is on a par with the beautifully unclear shapes characterizing the artist’s cover artwork. As usual, this is a complete, if undersized package of unpolluted artistry.
Knowing that this type of people exists, attempting to render their operations manifest (although exclusively for the small number of lucky ones who receive a copy of these very limited editions), is a motivation that reinforces the resolve of still hoping in something good for the future of human race.