One of the most unusual, destitute albums in James Leyland Kirby’s (aka The Caretaker's) extensive catalogue, ‘Bleaklow’ inhabits the distinctly grey, northern climate that has shaped Kirby's sound for over two decades. For our money it’s one of the most unique jewels in Kirby’s catalogue, finally given a much needed vinyl re-press following on from its initial release over a decade ago.
It’s a singular, harrowing trip from the start, the opening "Something To Do With Death” transmitting waves of dread via unstable, fizzing drones punctuated with pained, hi-pitched howls that cut through the mix with violent intent. ’Solemn Dedication’ adds percussion to the mix and sits somewhere between classic John Carpenter and Nate Young, but it’s on 'Indefinite Ridge’ that things really take a turn towards that eerie, destabilising sound Kirby can do so well, like a standout BoC vignette pounded by the rattle of industrial machinery in the background.
"A Melody Drags Me Back” recalls the spirit of Kirby’s best known productions as The Caretaker, except in place of those old 78’s you get the vaguest hint of life and colour beneath the endless layers of sonic unease. The album ends with 'Ominous Sunset’, an incredible 6 minute coda that’s perhaps best compared to Kirby’s 'Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was’ set, like Vangelis’ score for Bladerunner aged and degraded, still somehow conveying all it’s retro-futuristic romance.
It’s an astonishing ending to one of Kirby’s finest albums.