Review Archive

‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’ debut album from Inti Rowland - hard to categorise

(March 16, 2015)

This album from Inti Rowland is a musical outing called ‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’. Its wraithlike blend could be described as indie folk, alternatively ethereal folk works just as well, you inti rowlands album cover 001could even go as far as calling it thoughtful drifting folk. Then, of course, some may consider that calling it any type of ‘folk’ is misplaced. The essence of this album is its refusal to fit neatly into any brackets at all. Whatever ongoing debate circulates, any attempt to describe this music is ultimately meritless, and that’s why this music is so hard to categorise and possibly why some people will find it hard going. The bottom line with ‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’ is ... be prepared to open your mind and experience something different.

The overriding impression left by this album is poetry set to music rather than any accepted definitions of ‘song’ and that is probably as close as any explanations will get. Whether you’re listening to ‘Mongolian Hunters’‘The Ballad of the Ballroom Ghost’ or the eponymous 17th Century Japanese Aviary’, this album will take you along in its explorations and adventures, but only if you’re willing to allow it to guide you through its possibilities. The tracks drift along on a flow of finger-picked guitar, softly anxious vocals and a miasma of collected sounds. The sweeping strings on ‘The Pendulum Sings For The Joy Of It’ weave a pattern that anchors the poetry, while ‘The Books From My Shelf’ suggest a faintly meandering echo of albums with similarly expansive approaches.

One fear I have for this album is the concentration, focus and effort it demands from the listener. Hopefully, those that take the time to work with it will tell others what they’ve found and spread the word. Website:

Reviewer: Charlie Elland

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