Grasscut - Unearth
Grasscut's critically acclaimed Ninjatune debut, 1 Inch: ½ Mile was a pleasing introduction to their world of intriguing samples and ethereal production. This, their second effort, features a greater focus on Andrew Phillips' vocals and even features a turn from Robert Wyatt on the utterly gorgeous closer, 'Richardson Road'. For whom, interestingly, the other half of Grasscut Marcus O'Dair is currently penning an authorised biography.
Grasscut are intrinsically British in that they are scrupulous with the little details; their debuts title for instance being a reference to scales found on maps. Even more so on Unearth, each of its ten tracks having a back-story or point of inspiration. The duo have even gone so far as to hide cassettes in different locations across the country; if you are lucky enough/ have the time to find them all and break the code, you will receive a private performance in your own home. One such back-story is that of 'Reservoir', a track regarding a drowned village set at Lake Vyrnwy, Wales that features a superb vocal melody.
Unlike its predecessor Unearth sees much more attention being paid to its works as a whole. Don't get me wrong, I adore nothing more than listening to 'High Down' as the rest of the world crumbles around me; it's just refreshing to see that they didn't merely try and recreate their debut, simply adding 2.0 to the title. Going in thick and fast with 'Cut Grass' and 'Pieces' sees the pair utilise their now distinctive chops and rhythms – presumably getting things out of their system – as things take a much more relaxed caring approach for the remainder of the record. Andrew's unsettling yet soothing vocals are much more prominent in the mix this time round which, in turn, sees their reliance on samples diminish.
Grasscut are an act that have matured greatly in the two years since their debut; Andrew's adeptness in composing such intriguing soundscapes provides great joy, and for those of you who would normally dismiss this particular branch of electronica, don't knock it unless you try it. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Oh, one last thing. Andrew, Marcus, if no-one manages to find all those cassettes I'll happily have you play round mine. I'll provide lots of tea and sandwiches. Promise.