In the village of Stanton Drew, and dating from around 4,500 years ago, is the third largest complex of standing stone circles in England. David Colohan visited the site one rainy morning in early 2020 and was inspired by the mix of winter sunshine and eerie ancient atmosphere to create a record of his impressions. Fair enough, since people rarely send postcards from their travels anymore. Actually, the postcard analogy only works if it allows for someone designing a postcard when they get home, since Colohan's use of field recordings is minimal and he doesn't really create music in situ. He's done this before with other locations but A Lunar Standstill is easily his most consistent recording.
Colohan uses alto saxophone, clarinet, electric guitar, field recordings, harmonium, mellotron, modular synthesizer, trombone, and voice. Maybe I am triggered in a good way by the harmonium but much of this music gives off such a warm and pleasant hum that I started dreaming about Ivor Cutler as a Druid—although I hope that does not sound trite, as Cutler's music has a spiritual grace and trusty home grown solemnity which bestows upon it a uniquely absurd sense of substance and sincerity. The more bizarre it gets the more serious it becomes. On the subject of bizarre, Colohan's "A Static Field" is strange—as if it were composed for divining sticks, ley lines, and glow worms.
This album starts slowly though, with the first couple of tracks seeming like elbows inching into hot water before giving the baby a proper bath, or even someone in a Zen state testing the acoustics in their tiled hallway. It's as if we're driving to the ancient stone circle but we're not there yet. After that things go up a notch: we've arrived, the weather is perfect, and the sandwiches we packed taste unusually good. The voices on "Born Over Blind Springs" seem a portal to elsewhere, to a location where human emotion intersects with history and myth, nature and spirituality. Even better is "The River Talking In It's Sleep," perhaps the most avant-piece here, suitably liquid in structure and flow—with lovely clarinet and mellotron or synth—a real golden ear point climax on the record
The Stanton Drew circles were probably first noted by the famous antiquarian John Aubrey in 1664. He recorded that the villagers were breaking stones with sledge-hammers and that several stones had recently been removed. The circles are less well known and visited than Avebury or Stonehenge, and are situated a few miles southwest of Keynsham (the town culturally immortalized in the title of an album by the Bonzo Dog Band, in reference to Horace Batchelor, a football pools predictor from Keynsham who regularly advertised his service on pop music radio broadcasts in the early 1960s. In advertisements Batchelor would spell out the town's name when reading his postal address. The album starts with a line taken from Batchelor's radio advertisement "I have personally won over..."
David Colohan has been quite prolific, and has releases available for free download. At the risk of sounding like Horace Bachelor, I have personally grabbed several and A Lunar Standstill ranks with my favorite of his works, including "Emmadorp" from Prosperpolder and also his Visitations album. It includes "The Quoit & The Cove" which has an impressive harmonic resonance, even after I realized my wife was inadvertently accompanying David Colohan on vacuum cleaner from the next room.