The Peak District is an ancient, often desolate landscape. In modern times it is best known as a national park full of sheep and tourists but it is also a place full of ghosts, a landscape littered with stone circles, Celtic crosses, historic churches and pagan folklore. It is that side of the Peak District that John Biddulph seems to connect with on his new album Perambulations I.

The album holds a deep sense of time and that in itself is a potent thing in music. That depth opens up a world full of mystery, history and geography. The sense of place really comes across and holds meaning through these sparse pieces of ambient music. It offers the open-minded listener an insight into a world that lingers somewhere on the periphery of modern life; not completely disappeared but somehow hidden and ghostly. Biddulph describes using ‘moss tones’ to build these soundscapes. ‘These moss tones are motifs, sounds, textures, strategies, field recordings, and, to some extent they bind the tracks together.’ Abstract as that may seem, the idea of ‘moss tones’ makes some sense in the context of the sodden moors and damp remnants of woodland tucked away in the valleys of the Peak District.

Opening track Lud’s Church has a Medieval feel and the history is palpable. The haunted drones create a sense of awe; the type of awe that folkloric geological features like Lud’s Church evoke in real life. Circle Stones (The Nine Ladies) has a similar awe-inspiring sound accompanied by buried voices and chants that appear out of the mix in a spectral fashion. They’re crying out from deep time – the ancient past – and it brings the sacred energy of these places to life on the record. There are three tracks with (The Place Between Stones) in the title, one relating to Air, one to Earth and one to Fire. The inclusion of these three classical elements in the song titles adds to the idea that this is an album about a different time, even a different world. The music moves gently, filling the space around you with whirring sound and creates a sonic dimension where these places and their meaning are open to the listener’s interpretation.

Doll Tor I has a tonal, dreamlike quality. It conjures images of dark misty moorland and a man wandering, perambulating, lost and confused. A man who may not know how he got there or where he is. Powerful forces are at play here and this track has a Lynchian unreality. Incongruous as it may feel, it isn’t alarming or unpleasant. Doll Tor II is slightly lighter than Doll Tor I, as if the mystery is revealing itself somehow, or perhaps we are heading closer to reality and away from the ghostly otherworld that much of Perambulations I seems to occupy.

However the final piece on the album refutes the idea of escape. The world this record evokes can never truly disappear. It is always there, just beyond the hikers, the day-trippers and the sheep farmers. Seven Stones of Hordron is a sort of summation of the perambulation itself. This icy powerful piece of music has an eternal quality to it. It connects the geography, the history and the deep mystery of the other locations and the other songs in a way that doesn’t offer easy explanation; it is more an abstract feeling than something tangible – the listener is free to create his own meaning.

There will always be a need for music like this that explores a sense of place, a sense of time and which offers as many questions as it does answers. Perambulations I is a largely minimal album full of space and time for the imagination to take a mystical journey and tune in to the ethereal energy of this landscape. Listening to it and letting your mind wander is an enjoyable experience, a deep yet very simple pleasure.

Permabulations I by John Biddulph is out now, released on New Reality Records.