Petrels Ė Haeligewielle (CD Denovali)

Haeligewielle is the debut solo recording of Oliver Barrett of Bleeding Heart Narrative and is a rather eclectic collection.

Haeligewielle means holy well or sacred spring and there is a theme of water here amongst the titles with Canute, Silt, and William Walker (a famous diver from Winchester)and  also a theme of stone with Concrete and The Statue is Unveiled With the Face of Another. William Walker was famous for shoring up the sides of Winchester Cathedral so there is clearly a story being told within the pieces unfortunately Iím not sure what it is and I think understanding the narrative that goes with this collection of pieces would add a great deal to the listening experience.

Oliver tackles a variety of styles. His use of bowed strings, bent electronics and found percussion and occasional vocals take us through the sounds of God Speed You Black Emperor! String-scapes to glitchiness, light hearted percussiveness and ethereal sounding choral songs. The longest piece is saved for last with the track about William Walker and his monumental task of strengthening the Cathedral. This piece begins with sound effects of watery burbling and banging and moves into almost a piece of classical composition with strings giving a suitable watery feel to the piece. As it develops female voices join, tinkling bells and an level of echo that replicates the feel of being under water. It gives way after twelve minutes to an electronic rhythm and processed vocals that sees us out to the end of this. The first twelve minutes seem to be a great portrayal of the story of William Walker and his work and the end of the piece almost seems to be trying to convey a celebration of his success with its more uplifting air.

As a debut Haeligewielle is a good place from which to progress but itís not for me a great album. Itís has great moments but it also has moments where you think yes thatís good but Iíve heard similar things done, but done better. It will be interesting to see where Oliver takes Petrels from here. DB