Duncan Sumpner, the man behind Songs of Green Pheasant, clearly holds to a “quality over quantity” mindset. It’s been five years since his last releases, a pair of self-released limited edition mini-albums, and eight years since his last title for Rusted Rail, 2012’s excellent Soft Wounds. Which just means that whenever a new Songs of Green Pheasant album is eventually released, then it’s time to set everything else aside and lose yourself in Sumpner’s brand of lush, dreamy folk music.
“The Wormwood Star Falls” is Sumpner at his very best, with gauzy, fuzzed-out instruments (acoustic guitar, accordion) forming a patchwork quilt held together by spectral, twilit drones. Sumpner’s multi-tracked vocal harmonies drift across the surface of the song, which grows increasingly full, even riotous, thanks to a loping bassline, shards of guitar noise, and clattering percussion.
An immediate comparison might be Fleet Foxes’ earlier material, were Robin Pecknold et al. recording in a dilapidated cabin somewhere in the English countryside. Both artists’ music possess a similar lilting and homespun quality, though Sumpner delves more deeply into pastoral psychedelia in his songs (see also “Sisters of the District,” “Lucy Says”). All comparisons aside, the resulting music is as otherworldly and bizarre as it is intimate and down-home.
It may very well be another five years before Sumpner releases another album, if not longer, but who cares? “The Wormwood Star Falls,” along with the rest of When the Weather Clears, is ample proof that new Songs of Green Pheasant music is always worth the wait.