Jonathan Coleclough


Jonathan Coleclough

CD · Siren03/Robot14 · Siren/Robot · Japan/USA
First release: 1998 (edition of 500)
Second release: 2002 (edition of 300)

Sound extract

Although they are packaged identically, the two releases of this CD have different versions of the music.

Recorded in Cornwall, Ballymakenny and Wired. Thanks to Chris Britton, Colin Blakey and Áine Dunne. Colin Blakey can be found at here.


First release 1998
1.  Cake  (35.22)

Second release 2002
  Cake  (41.05)

Reviews  1998 release

Consisting of a single evolving piece, Cake explores Coleclough’s interest and use of field recordings while employing a sensitive amalgamation of organic textures. With a delicate yet pronounced sense of droning space, including an often filmic impression of landscape, Cake manages to produce a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere that should easily engage those interested in the likes of Organum, Giancarlo Toniutti, Eliane Radigue, a.o.
Forced Exposure, July 1998.

Beautiful melancholy drone music from England.
Anomalous catalogue, July 1998.

Cake lasts just over 35 minutes, but is the full 35 minutes of beauty. A drone that holds the piece together, with some bell and bird calls, this is hauntingly beautiful… the effect of less is more is rather the same: mind inducing music.
Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly 141, Sept 1998.

Extremely enjoyable, like laying down in a thick bed of white frosting. Metallic birdcalls echo out across a snowy and desolate landscape… I’m eagerly awaiting further releases. In the meantime we have this creamy mouthful – just a taste really.
Seth Nehil, ND magazine, Spring 1999.

An emphasis on surprisingly rich and beautiful tones emerging out of a very dark, quiet amplification. A clatter of distant pianos fades into bleak reverberations that hint at the catacomb recordings of Lustmord with field recordings filtering through. Coleclough’s work seems to fall somewhere in between Organum’s acoustic drones and Bernhard Gunter’s requests for careful listening. Recommended drone work!
Aquarius Records, Sept 1999.

... delicate droning sound... recommended
Staubgold catalogue, 1999.

Reviews  2002 release

On the surface, ‘Cake’ appears simply as the second pressing of this record with a similar cover (it’s just the inside of the booklet turned outside), yet the minimalist drones within are noticably different than the original album. Instead of the backwards masked piano of the first ‘Cake,’ Coleclough introduces this album with a field recording of various chirps from sparrows, finches, and crows. At a very deliberate pace, Coleclough begins to filter these recordings into glistening flanges that reflect into an incrementally building drone. In fact it is the sustained drone that Coleclough sculpted for the original version of Cake, rich with sustained metallic timbres that breathe with the scraped pulse of bowed metal (possibly a steel strung cello or a bowed cymbal or even a prepared piano). Where Coleclough had originally been interested in finer points of quiet listening, the second version of ‘Cake’ accentuates the minute glissandos and textural variations of those metallic drones. Compositionally, Coleclough gets relatively aggresive in the volume after starting out at very quiet levels. As a whole ‘Cake’ (version 2) retains a similar feel as the first with an expansive sound evoking a peculiar sadness and obtuse mystery, but is different enough to be certainly worthwhile if you have the original. And if you don’t, this is a wonderful introduction to one of our perennial favorite drone artists. You bet this is recomended!
Jim Haynes, Aquarius Records, 2002.

Does one eat cake before or after a walk in the Black Forest? Or is it that kind of cake? Dark and mulchy, soft when it first steps, yes, even with the crickets and chirps, the slithering of winds and wing feathers’ flap, twittering, the entire forest, all cloaked in black tree branches, the mist sizzling high above the forest floor. Even with such a spacious convergence at the start of the walk into, you can still hear the humus humming, the very drag of its omniscient breath beneath it all. Coleclough gets the will’o wisps to hover and drone about ten minutes in, burning through the lofty bramble with gentle pulses and backwards warping of source tapes. The miniscule wings still chitter, but Coleclough grows crescent and more present as you delve towards the forest’s center, and soon he overtakes all life forms, turning birdsongs to silver and beetle clicks into flickering specks of electricity. The natural sounds, once thought untouchable, are remolded at their core, rendering them anew. There is still that retractive, receding sound, into which all dissolves, much like in the first version of Cake available a few years back, but while Coleclough disappeared early on in that piece, allowing the void’s aftertaste to spread through the speakers, here he grows enormous and all-encompassing before returning to such earthy silence of fallen leaves and dirt crumbs. One should not consider this to be a remix, or reorganizing of the sound material of the earlier incarnation, but as a continuation, as when snow falls for two consecutive days, differing in its drifts.
Andy Beta, Angbase 7

The Alternate Version of ‘Cake’ is a reworking of Coleclough’s original release: a single, 41-minute piece built mostly from processed field recordings, carefully controlled feedback, and bowed metal. It’s an emotive and highly atmospheric work (if a bit linear), that spans a much wider dynamic range than his other compositions. The disc begins with recordings of birds and insects above a barely audible low-frequency rumble. This persists for several minutes at the edge of perception, occasionally augmented by footsteps, wind, and other noises captured in a peaceful landscape. Just as listening to the sounds of the forest begins to grow slightly tiresome, the piece starts moving forward, with layers of glistening, high-pitched feedback slowly emerging from the mix. The bird songs become bathed in gradually increasing amounts of reverb and effects-processing, and the rumble builds in volume and texture into a deep, ominous, metallic drone. All of the sounds used are detailed, and the resulting sum is quite interesting.

I particularly like the manipulation in which the natural sounds are merged with the artificial—the birds take on a strange resonance, and the buzzing of insects sounds vaguely like the clicking and clanging of metal. The piece grows in intensity during its middle section as the feedback is amplified and digitally timestretched, and it is further embellished by what might be prepared piano and backward cymbals. After building into and persisting for a few moments in a crescendo of metallic tones and insect-like noises, during which the textures exhibit more evidence of digital treatment than in the usual Coleclough composition, things begin to get predictably and progressively calmer. The effect is absolutely hypnotic as the layers of ringing high-pitched tones slowly shift and change; the piece gradually moves back into the lower frequencies in which it began, and the bird calls re-emerge. A few repeating icy feedback tones establish a faint melody, evoking a reflective and somber mood. Just like his other releases, here Coleclough arranges ordinary sounds perfectly to create an environment that is sonically rich and definitely captivating. Due to its range of volume and sonic variety, this disc is probably his easiest listening so far; regardless, it is certainly a rewarding one.
Steve Smith, Brainwashed Brain, October 2002.

Cake transforms cosy ambient cliche into nightmare drone. It begins with location recordings of what seems to be a summer meadow full of twittering birds in rural tranquility. Slowly demonic malevolence begins to rise. Bird calls are warped and robotised, and a dark drone unfolds almost imperceptibly. The time stretched layers are deployed in mind expanding eeriness. If you enjoy Coil’s Time Machines then this is definitely one to check out.
Graeme Rowland, Flux, 2002.

One of ambient music’s masterpieces.
Piero Scaruffi,

Recorded in the wonderful Cornwall among the other places, ‘Cake’ is a perfect example of how to mix environmental sounds with deep (and internal) vibration. Birds and natural voices welcome the listener at the beginning; when you get used to this chirping chant, almost immediately you’re aware something is silently coming, crawling underneath - that’s the ‘Coleclough vibe’, a wiry low frequency that makes one resonate with intense serenity for the whole record’s length, at the same time reinforcing a profound awareness of our state of mind in connection with all our body functions. Just like that - this man creates music so simple in its conceiving, yet so full of important messages. Compared to most ‘fake shamans’ I hear these days, I mantain Jonathan is the real thing: don’t miss this superb record.
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, 2003.