Album review: Adam Geoffrey Cole – The Tracks of the Afterlander

Words by Rhys Jones

Under the guise of Trappist Afterland, Adam G Cole has carved out an uncompromising and often exciting back catalogue of acidic spiritual folk that weaves Eastern time signatures, ethereal drones and meditative audio journeys, which resulted in 2020’s Seaside Ghost Tales. The double album culminated in a series of songs that seemed at odds with his live performance, and with the greatest of respects felt like Cole exorcizing every sonic possibility within his Trappist remit before jettisoning it in an act of audio transcendence. 

The bare-bone tracks of the Afterlander is a perfect antidote for his later Trappist Afterland release, stripping back to carefully selected string instruments and jettisoning the numerous percussion instruments. This allows Adam Cole’s compositions space to breathe and indeed with many of the re-visited songs, a chance to appreciate their brilliance without the additional sonic baggage that made his previous outings fit snuggly into the acid folk parameter.  

The Tracks of the Afterlander also shows off the subtly of Cole’s playing and song craft and how he has found his voice as an instrument, with agreeable murmurs and whispers that weave seamlessly with his confident instrumental work. Another observation that becomes evident is how Cole has focused on concise son writing, with half of the tracks clocking in under the 3-minute mark. Is this an example of Cole going acoustic baroque pop?   

This will by no means polarise the listener, as the longer tracks (most notably “Clay Sparrows” and “Man of Sorrow”) retain their mediative brilliance and work even better as exercises in voice and guitar with only the subtlest of backings, provided by long time collaborator Anthony Cornish.

This natural regression makes for an album that will please existing fans whilst also catching the ear of a new audience with an accessible sound that still retains the nuance that made previous Trappist Afterland albums such unique experiences. The Tracks of the Afterlander seems like a quintessential Janus moment looking both forward and back, and assessing the natural fork in the road that culminates in two musical routes should be further explored confidently. An accomplished album.

The Tracks of The Afterlander was released 29/9/22 on Ramble Records, and is available to purchase on vinyl and digitally.

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