Although it's the third release from Songs Of Green Pheasant, Gyllyng Street is considered the proper follow-up to his excellent self-titled debut. Aerial Days arrived last year, and provided sort of a stop-gap mini-album of songs to tide over those waiting for something new, but this seven song, forty-two minute release is a much more developed and realized effort from Duncan Sumpner, who is joined by several guest contributors.
While it was still recorded off in the English countryside, some of the seriously lo-fidelity aspect that tinted earlier work from the group is gone. The production is by no means polished and precise, as a soft tape hiss still coats every song, but as with past work from the group it just adds to the overall vibe. "Boats" opens things up, and starts things off on very solid footing as soft guitar, bass, and vocals are soon joined by drums before some lovely guitar work comes soaring in for the second half.
"King Friday" follows, and many of the same elements follow, with a quiet intro followed by multi-tracked vocals, warm, reverbed guitars, and even some piano. About halfway through, the song builds to a swarm of noise, then disintegrates into a completely new section, where Sumpner actually channels a touch of a pop influence with cracking drums, some funky bass, and cascading guitars. All of this takes place in three and a half minutes, and is easily the most dynamic thing the group has put out to date.
Unfortunately, from there on out Gyllyng Street gets a lot more predictable, with several long songs that are heavy on atmosphere but light on progression. "West Coast Profiling" has some pretty moments during its eight-minute run, but even when it drops some beats in to gain some steam, it doesn't feel like it's gaining ground. At over eight minutes, "A Sketch For Maenporth" runs into the some of the same problems, blending together nice guitar ripples and some found-sound noise into an ambient track that calls to mind a lesser track from Yellow6.
One of the most successful songs on the release is one sung by guest vocalist Julie Cole. A quiet, but beautiful guitar melody intertwines with gamelan-style prepared guitar and soft accordion while Cole separates the song nicely with her solid, if slightly unpolished vocals. In the end, the biggest problem with Gyllyng Street is that it's more forgettable than it should be. There are some beautiful moments, and the additional instrumentation seems like it should have really filled things out, but it really seems like it goes into a shell during the second half and loses some of the great song shifts that take place during the first four tracks. It's by no means a bad album, but despite the slight changes it doesn't feel like much of a step forward. If you liked previous material from the group, you probably won't go wrong here, but there isn't a great deal to separate it from the pack.