'An expertly crafted shifting of aural sands.' Read the full review of A Rain-Racked Hall at themusic.com.au/news/all/2016/02/21/this-one-time-on-bandcamp-gaylord-smith/
(Gaylord Smith is Owlsley's former moniker).
Shortly after New Years Day 2016, Owlsley found himself back in the verdant Melbourne hills after a prolonged and eventful sojourn in London. It had been two years since he had recorded anything, and had about a dozen songs up his sleeve detailing his recent (mis)adventures.
One of his first tasks upon returning was to set up a recording studio in his new digs. His principle piece of equipment was a ratty old reel to reel tape recorder found on a rubbish heap. To complete the set up Owlsley added a decent pre-amp and a delay unit. As soon as the microphone was in place the songs just started pouring out at a rate of one every couple of days. By the end of January the new album was all but finished.
This set of tunes is a little different to Owlsley previous albums, in that the songs are more stripped back, more spacious. This is due mainly to the hard fact that Owlsley had sold almost everything before heading to England. Essentially he was starting from scratch.
He made only one rule: that he could only use what was to hand. If it wasn't already in the house it couldn't be included on the record. Thus a house mate's African goatskin-covered hand drum makes an appearance, as well as a shaker made from rice in a plastic container (brown rice of course - it sounds better). Luckily Owlsley had kept his two favourite guitars in storage (but not much else).
So, may I present to you Owlsley Burroughs' brand new, if oddly titled, A Rain-Racked Hall. I asked him what it means and he just smirked, saying I'd have to work that one out for myself. Hmmm. The one certainty I have is that the phrase doesn't appear anywhere in the lyrics, so basically I'm still in the dark.
In keeping with the minimalist aesthetic, post-production polish has been kept to the barest minimum. The result is an honest, unashamedly lo-fi, natural sounding album, and one which will never win the 'volume wars.' But then, Owlsley's never been known for his competitive nature. It is my feeling that this album was never really meant to be listened to blasting from the rooftops anyway. It's more of a 'headphones on a cozy night' experience.
All sounds present have been produced by Owlsley alone in his fairy-light bedecked hidey hole. No guests happened by this time around, so in this sense it's his first completely solo recording.