Making music equally inspired by the British folk of Fairport Convention and Bert Jansch and the volatile, textural rock of My Bloody Valentine, Gravenhurst was the brainchild of singer/multi-instrumentalist Nick Talbot. In the mid-'90s, Talbot was so taken with the dream pop movement that he moved to Bristol, home to some of the style's most visionary bands, including Third Eye Foundation and Flying Saucer Attack. His own band, Assembly Communications, mined a similarly experimental, ethereal vein and attracted some label attention before one of Talbot's bandmembers was killed when a car hit him as he was riding his bike. Though the band tried to continue in spite of this loss, in 1999, Assembly Communications disbanded.
Over the next few years, Talbot worked through his grief by founding his own label, Silent Age, and focusing on his own music. Gravenhurst's first album, 2002's Internal Travels, concentrated on simple but meticulous acoustic guitar work coupled with lyrics inspired by murder ballads, with just a hint of the atmospheric sound of Assembly Communications adding to the songs' haunting beauty. The following year, Talbot released the more elaborate, fuller-sounding Flashlight Seasons, which attracted the attention of Warp Records, who signed Gravenhurst and re-released the album early in 2004. Later that year, the mini-album Black Holes in the Sand -- which featured a quietly chilling version of Hüsker Dü's "Diane" -- became Gravenhurst's first original release for the label.
Released in 2005, the single The Velvet Cell and full-length Fires in Distant Buildings were Talbot's most fully fleshed-out works yet, incorporating not only folk and electronica but heavy fuzzed-out electric guitars and chugging Krautrock-influenced rhythms as well. Gravenhurst supported labelmates Broadcast on their 2005 U.S. tour. The band's excellent 2007 album, The Western Lands, leaned more toward space rock and shoegaze. With the departure of most of Talbot's touring band for other countries and projects, he returned to a one-man version of Gravenhurst for tours and performances at festivals in the late 2000s and early 2010s. This approach rubbed off on his fourth album, The Ghost in Daylight, which featured some of his most intimate songwriting and seamless blends of folk, shoegaze, and electronics. Late in 2014, Warp reissued Flashlight Seasons and Black Holes in the Sand and also released Offerings: Lost Songs 2000-2004, a collection of previously unreleased early recordings. That December, Warp announced that Talbot had died at age 37. ~ Heather Phares