Inti Rowland – 17th Century Japanese Avairy review

It’s a cruel oversimplification to say that young folk artist Inti Rowland hails from London, and has created a debut offering that’s as far from the urban world of his youth as you can imagine. Born in Chile in the early 90s and son of a travelling art student mother and a garlic selling, alcoholic father, and with a childhood living in a garden shed under his belt, Inti was keen to escape the bizarre confines of his younger years.

Over the course of six days, his first full length offering was recorded in the Scottish highlands, thirty miles from Perth, in a converted chapel – all adding to the atmospherics of the record. Pressed for time, the environment helped the process of creating the record, as Inti states; “The Scottish summer had a hint of warmth and the days were long and bright. Light would stream into our recording studio through the long church windows and daylight would persist until gone eleven at night, helping with the long hours.”

Though the lyrics are highly personal, the singer/songwriter encourages a wide interpretation of music, going on to say that, “the way I like to approach song writing is to acknowledge that most human experiences and emotions are universal… songs are loose things, and while for the artist they might come from a place of hurt or wonderment, primarily a song is one person’s take on an experience and if done well, then they can mean anything to anyone.”

Though Inti begins the album in no rush, the rapid albeit subdued pace of Mongolian Hunters sets the record in a fast, ever changing temperament. His vocals weave into the music and compliment his skilled finger style guitar sublimely; when I sublime, think of sublime nature, not only in the open, nature inspired atmosphere that’s created, but it the attention to details in amongst the mass, and the awe that inspires.

Slowing things down for The Ballad Of The Ballroom Ghost, the folkier side of the album is shown off, and with the intricate guitar that’s again shown off in Summer Swallows, it’d be easy to make comparisons to the likes of Ben Howard. With bass notes mirroring echoing vocals, there’s a dissociated feeling to the music in turn drawing attention to how unedited the recording is, all laced together with string harmonies.

It’d be unfair to give a blow by blow commentary on the delicate spectacle that the album is – much rather, it’s the sort of offering that requires several listenings to absorb everything that’s going on in the details, deserving more attention that the muzak style it slots itself into. However the ear is drawn to the cinematic opening of The Pendulum Swings For The Joys Of It, the interesting addition of the harmonica in The Golden Lark and It Is Time, and the constantly changing pace of penultimate Masks Of Winter, entirely governed by Inti’s vocals.

Inti’s modern take on the evolving style of folk is nothing is not splendid, his talent owed as much to poetry as to composition with his enchanting lyrics. Out of April 13th, 17th Century Japanese Aviary is one of the best albums of the year, by far.

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