Land Observations is the project of James Brooks, formerly of the post-rock band Appliance. During the group's hiatus in the mid-2000s, Brooks spent more time on his visual art, showing his work at galleries in the U.K., North America, and Europe, and also continued working on music on his own. Inspired by the ancient Roman roads that pass by his apartment, he began working on pieces that looped and layered his guitar work into something intricate yet minimalist, evoking the work of Kraftwerk, Cluster, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, and Acid Mothers Temple's Makoto Kawabata, as well as more pop-oriented artists such as the Cure and the Durutti Column. Brooks' first Land Observations work was 2011's Roman Roads EP, which was released by Enraptured Records in a limited edition of 500. Soon after, Land Observations signed to Mute Records (also home to Appliance), and the project's full-length debut was released in September 2012; the year was rounded out with a handful of European live dates.
Brooks continued to build his reputation with further Land Observations gigs in 2013, and was also invited by actor/composer Simon Fisher Turner to help perform his score for the BFI's restoration of The Epic of Everest, a 1924 film by Captain John Noel that documented George Mallory and Andrew Irvine's ill-starred attempt to climb the Earth's highest mountain. Taking its name from the European trip that many well-off university graduates embarked upon in the 17th through 19th centuries, 2014's The Grand Tour was a more intimate set of songs recorded in a friend's apartment near the Bavarian Alps.