Unpopular Advent 2019 – Day 4

Trappist Afterland – ‘God’s Food’ from ‘Insects In Amber’ LP

Trappist Afterland (aka the prolific Adam Cole) has, over the past few years, firmly established himself as a favourite in the Unpopular firmament. Just how much of a compliment this may be is for others to decide, but what is clear is that through his performances and recordings Cole continues to explore intriguing avenues where Folk meets the realms of Gnostic spirituality and metaphysical musing.

On the ‘Insects In Amber’ set Cole again draws various collaborators into the Trappist web, notably in the form of Kitchen Cynics’ Alan Davidson on narration duties on a couple of tracks and Irish folkster David Colohon with “prayer and hymn” duties on ‘Bishop Of Armagh’, a track that explicitly brings reference to what we might call more traditional, organised religion into the Trappist landscape. Elsewhere Cole draws in a more secular reference point in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Dream Within A Dream’. It’s a poem that to some of us of a certain age is very much associated with the reading by Propaganda on their classic ‘A Secret Wish’ LP back in 1985 and if Trappist Afterland’s take inescapably comes off second best in a head to head comparison it’s to their credit that the poem is given a fittingly off-kilter interpretation. It’s a pared back reading with cadence and rhyming structure tweaked to fit the medium of song, and it’s a deftly delivered evocation of the notion that all is connected. Particularly so as it follows our personal favourite from the ‘Insects In Amber’ set.

‘God’s Food’ is gloriously insistent, repetitive, building on those simple refrains and layers of texture we enjoyed so much in Alula Down. ‘God’s Food’ is hymnal without being suffocatingly oppressive, ancient and modern in the same breath, and It is deeply connected to the Earth without being insufferably smug and preachy. This is no mean feat, and in these times where rabidly oppositional stances are increasingly insisted upon there is something of a balm in songs like ‘God’s Food’ and artists like Trappist Afterland reminding us quietly that it is only through embracing the connectedness (and therefore, implicitly, the contradictions) that enlightenment might be found.

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