Time, place, change. Massive themes which to capture and explore through art, music or literature takes skill but more importantly it requires the ability to feel. These are cosmic forces; abstract shapeshifting concepts and there has to be something within the artist, combined with patience and knowledge, which allows them to tap into these themes and bring them to life. Kinbrae – the project of twin brothers Mike and Andy Truscott – and writer and artist Clare Archibald from the Kingdom of Fife in Scotland have forged a deep practice in creative dialogue and sonic experimentation, exploring abstract notions of place and deconstructing its innate rhythms and sonic totems. Their album Birl of Unmap brings the hidden forces of time, the concept and identity of place and the march of change to life in a stunning collection of ambient, instrumental, spoken word and industrial soundscapes.

Opening track Excavate of Other (The Unknowing) is a mix of spoken word, dissonant strings and industrial ambient soundscapes. For all that description could sound jarring it is very accessible and incredibly beautiful and it really sets the tone of the album. There is a sense of time moving and of a landscape living, breathing and evolving. This is a journey of sorts, an exploration of place. Birl of Unmap is an attempt to unravel the dynamic layers that make Fife an area of both artistic and physical interest, as well as interpreting something of the perceived language of the place. Sitting across the water from the cities of both Edinburgh and Dundee, yet also adjacent to the open North Sea, the Kingdom of Fife is both connected to the greater world and resolutely of itself. It can be reached from all directions by iconic bridges and yet is not an island, but such a landscape permits the existence of half-seen truths and spaces. Birl of Unmap is a response to one such place – a place of several pasts and many names in West Fife that has existed as an open cast mine, the long gone pit village of Lassodie, and most recently as a not-quite-fully realised land art vision of the post-modern architect Charles Jencks.

Haul Into Being has a delicate, spectral quality. The writing is haunting, powerful and brilliantly executed. Archibald’s voice carries the sensation of being in the room with you, or perhaps reaching you on the wind as you walk these landscapes and delve into their past. Undersouls is driven by the sound of industry, field recordings, mining and spoken testimony in a thick Scottish accent. This use of oral history reminds of Erland Cooper, particularly his exploration of the landscape and folklore of Orkney on his album Sule Skerry. The use of wind instruments/brass gives the piece an understated depth and adds a strange poignancy to the piece.

Warm Water Burn sits roughly in the middle of the album and prompts us, through sound, again pointing us towards the larger concepts at play here. The folk brass echoes are driven along with a marching beat and like the rest of the record there is an aesthetic of movement, time spinning or whirling, never quite moving in a linear fashion. This is the sound of Birl.  Carbibe Fizz contains more historic oral testimony followed by Archibald’s intimate prose which helps not only to contextualise what has gone before but also adds a mythic layer to the history, blurring it slightly as it moves towards the light of the present.

In some ways Half Seen Truths of the M90 is the most political song on the record, though it is more a widescreen philosophical inquiry than a political statement. However, that doesn’t detract from the immense power of this piece of music. The track’s lyrics written by Agnieszka Jadowska focus on immigration, flux and human nature and it asks important questions; ‘are we emigrating or are we simply in constant movement?’ The answer is as deep as the question, and perhaps isn’t really an answer at all, more a signal of how big the question is and how time works to unravel such ponderings ‘concepts of time and space will define the answer’. You won’t see deep thinking like this on 24 hour news channels but the question is as important as ever, probably more so in light of the ugly debates around refugees, Brexit and freedom of movement. The music which accompanies these musings plays a vital role in how they are interpreted. It evokes open space, filmic in scope and texture, exactly what such big themes deserve. Peer taps into the energies of geography and plays with the legacies of human impact upon the history and landscape of place. Mentions of Viking ships in a ghostly whisper gives the impression of walking with the spirits of the land, centuries or more old and at times unfathomable using conventional thinking. It is a quietly commanding piece of work, the use of poetic repetition here representing the cycles of history, the spirals of the past never quite leaving us, repeating over and over again in some hidden or slightly off-kilter continuum.

Final track Excavate of Other (The Continuing) leaves us with the uncanny feeling of returning but not completing. It signals that this leg of the journey may be over but time never stops, things constantly change and the exploration of what this area, this space and landscape means or represents could go on forever, the birl of unmap, the constant, subtle flux of even our most local, knowable places. It highlights what this record does so well. It takes big themes and it chases them, harries them and sometimes, fleetingly, it brings them out into the light for us to see. It almost makes the abstract tangible but in the end the mystery wins out, the shadows shift and the journey continues.

Birl of Unmap will be available in full on February 11, 2022. Cassette editions will be available through Full Spectrum in the US, cassette and CD editions of Birl of Unmap will be available through The Dark Outside in the UK.