A GRAVE WITH NO NAME
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Alexander Shields has been recording music under the moniker A Grave With No Name for a number of years now, but never has a collection of his songs more encapsulated the longing, desolate feeling of his namesake. Over 13 sparse arrangements, Shields carefully crafts voice, ambient noise, thoughtful acoustics and field recordings to create an atmosphere that is at times both distant and intensely intimate. Recorded over a winter at London’s Holy Mountain Studios, Wooden Mask finds him opting for a more elemental,skeletal collection of songs than past efforts by design - and to extraordinary gains. Stripped and left bare in favor of complex arrangements, these recordings are given room to breathe and pulse and hang on their meaning.
But at its core, the album belongs to its name: ‘Wooden Mask’. Shields describes masks - both those physical and metaphorical - as a way to both disguise and become closer to our transcendental selves. “Whereas my previous albums have been preoccupied with loss, Wooden Mask is a meditation on renewal, using ritual and ceremony as a means to explore this theme.” Ultimately, he uses the idea of the mask as a vehicle for renewal, transformation, peace and transcendence throughout the album. Wooden Mask is grounded in its relationship to the natural order surrounding its sound and space, but also brimming outward toward existential truths. It’s yet another staggering addition to Shields’ catalog as A Grave With No Name.