I must confess that I approached this album with trepidation after hearing that The Memory Band had recently been sucked into live performances of The Whicker Man soundtrack. And yes, while you can see influences from that recent foray, thankfully 'On The Chalk' is a long way from being any sort of horrible pastiche. While certainly leaning more heavily on the filmic and atmospheric than previous Memory Band offerings, there is still a lightness of touch to many of the tracks that will put a spring in your step - and yes, that is exactly what the recording is meant to do in some respects, as it is a soundtrack to 'the Line of the Downs', an ancient pagan route, that comes complete with explanatory booklet. There are a lot of field recordings and samples mixed over often loose but charming (even jolly) instrumentals that lean heavily on piano, acoustic guitar and pattering drums. The overall feel is very organic and pastoral, with the heavy repetition of melodic or rhythmic themes making perfect sense when taken in context - I have listened to this recording on my earphones while out 'yomping' my own ancient route over the Lancashire moors and found it wonderfully evocative; in many ways, the perfect accompaniment. On The Chalk could be an amalgam of the very first Tunng and Sproatly Smith records, which is no bad thing for fans of left-field folk.
Yes, it fits into the folktronic pigeon socket, I suppose, it's a bit Tunngy and groovy, very mellow, interesting, considered, thoughtful, nice, funksome, understated, just right, often lovely, compelling, good musicianship, a real work of art, times is hard but I actually bought this album. Along The Sunken Lanes is great (sounding a little bit Lemon Jelly), this is a solid album. Not an incisive review, but I just wanted to get it out there.