Ducks are still running the world
The bad news: It’s a wee 25 minutes long! The news we can’t classify: It’s 25 minutes of nature noises, recorded exclusively in the British countryside! The Deliberate SEO-Increasing News: We believe we’ve discovered the precise mathematical opposite of that whole Sleigh Bells thing.
National Trust: The Album, recorded by Cocker in conjunction with the environmental outfit British National Trust and available for free download when the Trust’s Web site is working (which it wasn’t much Wednesday), is basically a hipper version of the nature-sounds CD kiosk at Bed Bath and Beyond, assuming that can get any hipper. Birds and running water and billiards are in it. It opens with a track called “Walking on Gravel and Birds,” though it should be noted that only the gravel is actually walked on (this music would serve as an excellent backdrop while you revisit Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Jarv). It also contains “Waves Lapping Along The Shore,” “Gardening” and “Birds In Water Garden.” If you have ever found yourself exhausted by Decemberists titles, this may be your best day ever.
(Not that this is indiscriminate ambiance; “Footsteps Through the House,” as it turns out, makes a lovely transition into “Creaking Staircase.” Also, lest you think this is an garishly overpositive review, “Clocks Ticking and Chiming” and “Old Music Box” are pretty annoying.)
Cocker has said this album (air-quotes insinuated) is for background purposes only, in response to a Trust survey that revealed 83 percent of respondents said interrupting sounds disrupted their concentration. And he is totally right; as per his suggestion I’m listening while writing, and it’s really kind of nice (true fact: I went back to “Waves Lapping Along The Shore” like three times, and also possibly experienced an authentic 4th-grade flashback during “Murmurs Of Children In School House,” unless I just started thinking of Hardy Boys book titles for an unrelated reason). It’s a head-scratcher, sure, but who hates birds? With National Trust, Cocker’s finally made a record for the common people.