Nick Grey And The Random Orchestra
Breaker Of Ships
UK MILK & MOON RECORDINGS MILKMOON06 CD (2015)
A collaborator with Charlemagne Palestine and Eyeless in Gaza’s Martyn Bates, Berlin-based vocalist/songwiter + Nick Grey‘s Breaker… surfaces as the follow up to the concept album You’re Mine Again, 2014’s examination into love’s seedier back alleys and thoroughfares. This disc, which apparently should not be played “during or after a yoga session” (!) follows an attractively downbeat approach, where heavy-lidded/nocturnally-tinged arrangements merge with found sound drop-ins and warm, velvety ambient texturing. It’s made all the more arresting with a wildly impressionistic lyrical flow and sumptuous production values. The mixing and mastering expertise of Peter James and Mark Beazley (resp.) deserving a special mention and any band/artiste worth their salt (no maritime reference intended) should beat a path to their door(s) sharpish.
Although one can hear whispers of Scott Walker (Climate… era), isolationist Bowie and pre-hits and champagne Associates (“White Car in Germany” being a good yardstick), things really finger point to a certain period when new wave turned just a little darker, but a time before the invasion of the goth fraternity and their eventual yearly pilgrimages to Whitby. Among the soundscapers, singing bowlists, clarinettists and string players, there’s only one member of the Random Orchestra who really puts in a full shift and that’s bassist/guitarist/keyboardist Louis Pontvianne. His stinging nerves-on-a-precipice lead lines on “Juliet of the Bones” recalling Robert Fripp at his most “out”, as he would say. Excellent! I’m also strangely drawn to the mysterious swirls and curlicues of “The Archivist”, where lyrics like “I’ve been haunted by a monster called medicine, and as it grew, it turned into my bride…” evince suggestions of murky goings-on in some Victorian gentleman’s private laboratory. Totally out of bounds to the domestic staff. Shiver.
Signing off “Here he Comes now” (a remix by Scanner) is a 48 Cameras cover version. An amorphous international collective, which includes (or has included?) Martyn Bates, Charlemagne Palestine and the Random Orchestra’s Jean M. Mathoul, which is where, it seems I came in. Also available in a blink-and-you’ve missed-it slice of heavyweight 180 g vinyl…