Artist: Way Through
Label: Comfortable On A Tightrope
Catalogue Number: COAT015
Formats: Cassette Tape /
Running Time: 28:40
01. Visiting Mercia
03. Entangled Bank
05. Dead Game
06. Wander In The Mire
07. Landscape In Your Language
08. Bledlow Cross
09. Nether Stowey
WAY THROUGH are Claire Titley and Christopher Tipton, a pastoral punk duo originally from Shropshire, now residing in London. Informed by the field as much as the flyover, Way Through write songs which phase in and out with guitar, tapes, damaged drums and vocals. Using wrong-footed repetition, rapid interplay and free-looping happenstance the band create a ragged yet intuitive tapestry of sound. Their first album, ‘Arrow Shower’ was released on Upset The Rhythm last autumn, as well as their book and soundtrack to the East End of London ‘Your Hand Hold For I Have No More’.
‘Enclosure’ is Way Through’s new album released on cassette and digitally via Manchester label, Comfortable On A Tightrope. Recorded entirely at home, drawing on friends as guests, ‘Enclosure’ presents the band in inclusive yet introspective mood, looking at the differences across the boundaries, tracing demarcations. The title ‘Enclosure’ also references the specific action of enclosure, the eighteenth century process by which the English countryside was carved up into the modern field system, when many ordinary people lost their sense of the landscape and their sense of belonging within it.
‘Visiting Mercia’ starts off the album with a song about returning. Melancholic keyboards and stammering guitar refrains float like embers above a bonfire whilst layers of vocals, courtesy of Claire, overlap giving the impression of flooding memories. The lyrics detail a series of observations seen from the window of a train heading through the West Midlands, continuing in the tradition of poems like ‘Adlestrop’, ‘Pershore Station’ and ‘I Remember, I Remember’.
‘Entangled Bank’ sees Way Through team up with Rachel Aggs (Trash Kit, Covergirl, Sacred Paws) to make a tumbling anthem. Contrasting a chance meeting with a ‘77 punk (replete with safety pins and mohawk) with the graceful theme of evolution, ‘Entangled Bank’ considers how through the passage of time everyone, and everywhere is ‘ambushed by laws acting’ upon them, however intangible. Stepping out of the past, “you can see his clothes are catching on the briars, inheritance in heavy boots” sings Rachel, as their protagonist strides onwards anachronistically.
‘Enclosure’ also features several songs named after specific places, like ‘Helpston’, ‘Nether Stowey’ and ‘Bledlow Cross’. These are impressionistic attempts to capture the spirit of a place after a fleeting visit, attempts to find a deeper resonance and to communicate with the nature of the location on its own terms. ‘Helpston’ stalks the cornfields and quarries north of Peterborough in search of nature poet John Clare. ‘Nether Stowey’ swarms with fluttering ambience, pitched cymbals and looped melodies, added to further by guest vocals from Ethan Swan and Heather Anderson (of New York’s Corpsekisser), Way Through making much of the incongruity of American vocalists conveying the most English of scenes. ‘Bledlow Cross’ is a clustering of backwards tape loops and elegiac guitar, its atmosphere tapping into the decaying pathos of the overgrown and fast disappearing chalk hillside monument of its namesake. ‘Woodwose’ is similar in its instrumental composition to ‘Bledlow Cross’ only this time a decidedly rhapsodic guitar line dances through the mists of forlorn organ.
With ‘Enclosure’, Way Through have surrounded their sound, by walking through the mires, tracing burnt circles of earth, shrugging off those knavish tricks that leave us disinherited. “There’s landscape in your language” sing Way Through on ‘Enclosure’, drawing us into their visionary everyday, listening to the land, finding their own voice.