The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Laura Cannell & Polly Wright
Sing As The Crow Flies Jo Higgs , September 30th, 2019 08:54

Starting life as a sound installation in a forest in East Anglia, this soaring duet from Laura Cannell and Polly Wright is transportive and eerie, finds Jo Higgs

From a tree of hanging telephones, somewhere lost in East Anglia, a whispering of harmony gently calls. Laura Cannell and Polly Wright’s Sing As The Crow Flies was debuted as an audio-infused-sculpture within the 2019 Waveney Valley Sculpture Trail. As you place one of the aforementioned handset telephones to your ear, gently uncoiling the twisted serpentine wire from which it is entangled in the great branches, a preluding verse is spoken, followed by over half-an-hour of vocally reimagined folk music. Two voices, texturally layered over one another see the rural lives of centuries of women told in airy tune, ensuring the importance of these lives is known and never forgotten.

The compositions of this project were created in a gorgeous and lulling state of liberation as Cannell and Wright agreed to place no limitations or rules upon themselves, beyond the simple restriction of allowing no instrumentation. The resultant force is a spacious flow of wandering melodies refusing to give in to any rigid structure, but instead insisting they must freely float in amongst each other’s breathy voices.

Music solely of voice is classically tasked with the issue of ensuring each song is sonically different from the next. Sing As The Crow Flies succeeds in this challenge, evidenced in its traverse of harmonic understanding and thoughtful compositions. Mood and atmosphere are controlled with poise by the artists’ knowledge of how to induce eerie sounds such as in ‘One For The Rook, One For The Crow’, or the screeches present in ‘Marshland Banshees’, or the more sweet sounding ‘Sing As The Crow Flies Lullaby’.

One can easily imagine the rural church, home to the recording, as a sprawling cavernous expanse birthing a reverb-soaked project, a characteristic that gives this album a truly intimate feel of immediate presence. Whether through lyric-less swells or repetitious aged balladry, Sing As The Crow Flies enchants and enthrals; the listener is transported to a dark and isolated part of the countryside, just beneath that phone-strung tree in East Anglia.