When Leeds' own Paul Elam is not making music in The Declining Winter, he hones his talents into Fieldhead - the solo work in a world of its own.
To me, 'They Shook Hands For Hours' is like a collection of artwork. Scenes, ideas and stories crafted beautifully onto canvas. Each track takes on a different persona and presents the ambient and glitch-ridden sounds in a different and often thoughtful way from the previous track. Curious track names only expand the mystery further, inviting the listener to think as well as listen. Intentional or not, the imagery this album generates is impressive.
The artwork present on the sleeve mimics that of 'Hood,' with its still-life landscape shots of distant landmarks. Minimal but powerful, which can be said too about the musical content of this record.
'Document One' falls just short of five minutes and yet for the whole time, I was captivated entirely. The steady beat, the echoes, the warmth of the track carries on every listen. Subtle sounds make their presence known, but none more so than the ending, which is interrupted by a loud distorted fuzz. Even then the track still rolls like a fluid; elegant and smoothly.
The violins on, 'Songs Well Known' glide along in a tell-all fashion. From the highs to the lows, the arrangement floats on by. A moving piece in a positive and reassuring sense. A clear difference to the likes of 'This Train is a Rainbow' with its harsh sounds and rigid beat. Similarities to Clark could be drawn, but this can't be said for the whole record, for Elam has effectively declared himself as one of Leeds' finest electronic musicians, with his own particular sound.
'They Shook Hands For Hours' then, is an album of great character, song writing and style. I urge you to give it a listen, so you too can appreciate these sounds. After multiple plays, I can firmly say that this CD will be on repeat for many months to come.