Rock, March 2020

Bury The Moon
One Little Indian TPLP1472CDP

Icelandic songwriter Ásgeir composed this, his third album, in a rented summerhouse, creating the songs as basic guitar and keyboard demos before taking them into the studio and fleshing them out with additional musicians and lyricists. The tempo rarely rises above a slow shuffle but, in a track like 'Lazy Giants', about 'the lingering spectre of economic collapse', it's more than powerful enough to emphasise Ásgeir's message of warning. The title track is a masterful combination of unlikely components which Ásgeir blends into a beautifully coherent whole. His delicately beautiful voice and haunting melodies make every song supremely easy to sink into, like relaxing on a cool feather bed after a particularly hard day. JBk


My Bus
Our Life In The Desert
Onomatopoeia Records HUM30; LP: HUM29

For lovers of the early '90s dream pop genre, two Belfast bands, Butterfly Child and Papa Sprain are names to conjure with. Joe Cassidy of the former and Gary McKendry of the latter are old friends who worked together under the My Bus moniker 30 years ago. Now they've returned with a dozen mesmeric songs which more than confirm that they've lost none of the surreal originality which first drew attention to them. Tracks like 'She Was Never There', 'Moon Tempo' and 'Breakfast In Bed' confirm that this is a more consistently lovely album than anything either of them achieved on their own. We just hope the partnership continues. JBk


Infine iF1056

It's been a while since I've encountered contemporary players tackling classical music but the anonymous musicians of the somewhat enigmatic French project Arandel approach the idea with zest and imagination. The first successful electronic-classical crossover was, I recall, Switched On Bach by Walter Carlos in 1968, but Arandel go much further than Carlos dared, interpolating '80s electro-pop rhythms and sounds, rather than trying to copy the timbres of acoustic instruments. A handful of pieces are even reinterpreted as songs, with surprisingly effective results, occasionally reminiscent of The Swingle Singers, but no less enjoyable for that. JBk


Ignition Records IGNCD180; LP: IGNLP180

At the heart of this album is Rob Marshall, an acclaimed British guitarist probably best known for his collaborations with Mark Lanegan. Humanist is being promoted as Marshall's debut solo project, on which he has enlisted vocal assistance from, among others, Lanegan, Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), Joel Cadbury (UNKLE), Jim Jones (Thee Hypnotics) and Ron Sexsmith. Marshall's powerfully dense guitar lines dominate 13 doom-laden tracks but, with the exception of Mexican vocalist Ilse Maria's interpretation of 'Truly Too Late', the singers are all too similar to inject any real variety into the stark and minimally melodic songs. JBk