David Salisbury’s Camp Of Wolves has been one of those musical projects that I’ve been completely enamored with ever since I first heard Granite Creek a year and a half ago. That album rolled along like quiet melancholy; ambient and drone textures coalesced with emotional heft and vulnerability. His debut with label Soundtracking The Void was a sonic masterpiece that walked the line between sublime and dread.
Likewise with Wolves debut with Waxing Crescent Records in 2021, the equally stunning Green Timbers. That album dealt with the dark history of an area of land where a park and lake reside near Salisbury’s own home town. There’s a sense of both peace and darkness in every track; an ode to how modern times can never truly shake their historical skeletons in the closet.
On Camp Of Wolves newest album, the regal and personal Dragoon, Salisbury makes an album based on the life of his great-grandfather Private Harold Salisbury of the Dragoon Guards. This is an absolutely stunning listening experience, full of emotional heft and longing. It’s orchestral in feel, giving us a score to love, loss, and ghosts of the past.
According to Waxing Crescent Records, “Dragoon is an album inspired by David’s great-grandfather’s life before, during and immediately after WWI of which he is very lucky to have documentation, letters, stories, news articles and keepsakes from. This is a tribute to Private Harold Salisbury of the Dragoon Guards.” You feel the heft of time on this album. You can almost see weathered sepia-toned photos in front of you with tracks like “The Hundred”, “Lemonsong”, and “Remittance Man”. Salisbury treats this like a score to a documentary, turning the synthetic instrumentation into symphonic accompaniment. There’s a grandeur here; touches of Vangelis and Philip Glass come through in stunning ways, while still retaining Camp Of Wolves’ ghostly sonic touchstones.
Something like “Old Contemptibles” gives off Granite Creek vibes, haunted echoes and monolithic walls of sonic dread hover over us like smoke and death on a European battlefield. You feel the dread of war hang over you in this song. Then something like “People Of The Hill” arrives like a lullaby with shadowy corners. The horrors of war intermingled with the beauty of a quiet countryside once the bombing stopped. “Autumn Bones” signals the end of Dragoon, a lilting and gorgeous affair that sees Private Harold Salisbury leave the battlefield, but the battlefield never truly leaves him.
For my money David Salisbury and Camp Of Wolves is one of the most exciting and emotionally connected composers in electronic music right now. He’s a world builder and storyteller, and Dragoon is his most endearing and emotionally rich work yet.
Dragoon is out today on Waxing Crescent Records. Buy it here.