Thursday, 31 March 2016
The Magnetic North – Prospect Of Skelmersdale (Full Time Hobby)
LP / CD / DL
8.5 / 10
Post-rock shoegazers release that difficult second album.
To be frank, an album based around the subject of Skelmersdale may not seem the most exciting proposition. One of the UKs ‘new towns’ built in 1961 and still professing to have no traffic lights within its boundaries, it was created as an overspill for North Merseyside as part of the post-war population distribution. It failed and in the early 80s it became the residency of the Transcendental Meditation movement in the Britain.
The Magnetic North trio made up of Simon Tong (Blur, The Verve, Gorillaz) together with Orcadian musician Gawain Erland Cooper and orchestral arranger Hannah Peel (John Foxx And The Maths), have assembled something of a beauty with Prospect Of Skelmersdale. It’s slightly folky, with tinges of shoegaze and is altogether a lovely little beast.
The album weaves its way through twelve tracks which take in superb songwriting and experimentalism sometimes with a hint of sophisti-pop one hit wonders The Dream Academy famed for their 1985 hit, the aptly named Life In A Northern Town. Although unlikely that the northern town in question was Skem, the feel of both the hit and the set by The Magnetic North does hold some similarities.
It’s a short album, with quality prevailing over quantity and the sheer deliciousness of its contents make it essential listening. Remains Of Elmer takes the sound one step further as it introduces a racing orchestral backing against an infectious strap-line which is difficult to shake off. Indeed, the whole of the album is a collection of tracks which will leave at least a short term indelible mark in your aural cavities.
Cergy Pontoise sees Peel take over vocal duties and her angelic tones are a perfect complement to the wind instruments which take residence within the track, and Exit provides maybe a yearning to leave the town where brighter horizons lie.
With clever insertions of newsreel soundbytes the album retains an interest that many have similarly attempted and may have lost, and Pennylands (one of several album highlights) yet again delights with its sheer simplicity and beauty.
The Magnetic North may have done the Lancashire town some favours with this album. Whilst lyrically it may not always be entirely complimentary, musically and emotionally it is a cut above and will serve the trio well if there is any justice.
Tuesday, 29 March 2016
Thursday, 24 March 2016
de Montevert – de Montevert (No Method Records)
LP / CD / DL
8.5 / 10
Swedish classically trained cellist and sound engineer release her debut album.
The debut eponymously titled album from Ellinor Nilsson (aka de Montevert) is quite an accomplishment. Brimming over with moody, dark alternative pop seems effortless – and more importantly sounding like someone who has been making albums for quite some time.
Ellinor’s voice is like that of a gravelled angel, it is raw and uncomplicated but at the same time exudes a wonderful calm with every note. Set against the often brash instrumentation and lovingly constructed melodies it is an album which demands several listens.
With subject matters of love and betrayal prominent over the nine tracks, it is an emotional journey through some quite stunning pieces of work. October 11th is one such track which over five minutes contains just voice and minimal tones. The strap line of “It should have been me” is presented with pity and hurt and makes the track an overwhelming success.
And it’s not all sultry infinitesimal either, It’s Alright I’m Probably Dreaming the lead track from the album moves along like an old stream train with a continual bass beat and subtle drum beat. Like the rest of the album, it is addictive and holds an incredible amount of charm.
Produced by young Swedish singer Kalle Johansson and recorded on the outskirts of Umea in the north of the Country much of the album consists of first takes and live recordings. It is perhaps this approach that gives the album life and instils a warmth and enthusiastic final result.
Album closer Ode To Mental Instability tells its own story and is a well-placed track as a gentle but persuasive ending, but Summer Heart sits perfectly midway through with a vocal style not unlike that of 2003 Fame Academy winner Alex Parks.
Let’s Not Run Away Together has hints of Country again with an infectious sound and Close Encounter experiments with Blues over an eerie empty backing. A fine debut from Ellinor and one which holds promise if she can maintain the style which she seems to have made her own.
No Method Records
De Montevert website
De Montevert on Twitter
De Montevert on Facebook
Published on Louder Than War 17/03/16 - here