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FortDax | At Bracken (Static Caravan)
The brainchild of DIY studio boffin Darren Durham, FortDax's 'At Bracken' heralds the micro-landmark 50th release on Static Caravan, one of the UK's most dependable and loveable little labels. This eight-track, vinyl-only, mini-album also marks FortDax's final Caravan output before leaping to Tugboat Records and like all the most memorable farewells, this is one unsettling, magical and all too fleeting final embrace. A pupil of the 4AD school of unearthly and elegiac melodies, Durham here crafts a somewhat eerie yet moving record filled with an aching, mournful unease and an intimate, understated emotion that reveals greater layers of depth upon closer inspection. Straddling a very fine line between organic electronica, post-rock, ethereal indie, classical and cinematic scores, this is music guided by a slow-burning, steady pulse and an apparently simply constructed framework. Gliding over the lo-fi common ground somewhere between Dead Can Dance and Boards Of Canada, Cocteaux Twins and Tarwater, Piano Magic and Angelo Badalamenti, FortDax's mechanical boxes interweave strangely soulful rhythms that quietly bury themselves into your head, especially after repeated spins at late, twilight hours. These are fleeting, drifting broadcasts filled with shimmering keyboard washes, a naive radiance, microscopic beat-skitters, lost and lonely distance voices and a delightfully downcast, almost-airless emotion. Near-idyllic, subtly-dazed beats designed to be swept away by a small orchestra, distant transmissions from the unsettling outer-edge, 'At Bracken' is surely just the sound of FortDax waving goodbye to obscurity and hello to a more wide-screen artistic appreciation.

Ian Fletcher
August 2002