[…continued from last post]
The sun-dazzled pastoral, pizzicato pop of “Antony” called back melodically to “Difficult Shapes And Passive Rhythms [Some People Think it’s Fun To Entertain],” but this song had a lushness that came closer to the sound of a song like “Orinoco Flow.” Complete with birdsong. This was less bombastic, of course! The lyric was what first appeared to be a light hearted tribute to the Artist Formerly Known As Antony Hagerty, but the final verse acted to presage the dark tone of the remaining songs on this album. At least when considered lyrically. The melancholy of loss they alluded to was in sharp contrast to the vibe of the music. This would set the tone for the rest of the album.
After its whistling intro, “Dead Of Night” was based on metronomic rhythms that recalled music box precision but the toylike music was contrasted by the somber lyric telling of secrets, denial, endings, and estrangement. That was followed by the matter of fact “Anger And/Or Rage.” As usual with Mr. Daly, he could be singing about dark times indeed, but he usually sees fit to couch the music that such sentiments were built on in the usual beauty of his compositions.
“Funny how the feelings change
Full of anger and/or rage
Feel I’m falling off the page
Full of anger and/or rage
And wouldn’t want to be like you
The feeling’s mutual I see
You wouldn’t want to be like me
Full of anger and/or rage” – “Anger And/Or Rage”
The music seemed so casual and carefree, but on closer inspection of course it was not. The title track was an intimate number that was anchored by the pianos of Daly and producer Thomas McConnell. While the lyric examined the sort of loss and change all survivors ultimately experience in age, the simple elegance of the music pointed the way forward to some sort of peace and acceptance. Only in the middle eight did the synths and strings threaten to get all “Sgt. Pepper” but as soon as it seemed to happen, the mood receded more quickly than it came on, to leave the song to the dignity of the piano to conclude the album.
I suspect that some of these songs date back almost 20 years or so. Daly has stated that the notion was there to make a solo album at least as early as 2008 interviews, but the public were clamoring for China Crisis, so the solo material took a back seat for some years while the band got more busy with touring and then made “Autumn In The Neighbourhood” in 2015. So these songs remained unfinished business… until now. While it’s true that some of this was not a million miles away from the China Crisis playbook, there was a reliance on synths and self reliance that had been minimized in the band starting with their third album. The introduction of sounds like indie disco, harps, and John Campbell himself insured that there were moves made here to distinguish this as purely a solo product of Gary Daly. But the mixture of beauty and melancholy at the heart of these songs was simply a product of Daly’s artistic DNA as it has been from day one. Thank goodness.
The LP is sold out, but interested parties may buy the still available CD here. Finally, in a move that takes us back to the says of singles and B-sides, Daly has made six track download EP of remixes of sone of the “Gone From Here” material available for free download here. One need only register for Daly’s mailing list [let us be extra thankful that he’s now, finally having one] for the privilege but if you’ve read this far, then you are the target market for these, I suppose. I’ve downloaded these but have not had the time to listen to these mixes yet, but if memory serves, the files were uncompressed WAV format!
– 30 –
Based on your review, went to purchase the CD and I find myself in much the same quandary as you were. CAD$35 as shipping is ~$15. Argh. Between this and the OMD book and new boxset, it’ll be slim pickings this quarter.
KeithC – At least you got the OMD box. They sprang that on me and it was sold out within a fortnight. Leaving me no time to save up funds. Not that the the whole thing didn’t have anything more than the most perfunctory air in any case. You were better off dropping coin with Gary Daly! His album has much more artistic validity than some OMD odds and ends.
OMD box still available here in Canuckland for CAD$156.99 less a one-time 15% coupon and free shipping. Is that $33 in your Yankee bucks?
KeoithC – So not worth it to me! And right now I only have about 26 Yankee Bucks in any case.
I notice engineer Mark Phythian is featured on the free download EP. He’s engineered many an album over the years – China Crisis, Coldplay etc. He was in the year above me at senior school. I remember he had a short lived electropop group called Nylon around 1981.
Andy B – And there’s a vintage photo of a teenaged Pythian [wearing a “Tragedy + Mystery” T-shirt!] sitting at the drums with a guitar at what may be a Nylon gig on the inner gatefold of the CD!
Monk – that picture sounds very interesting. I’m not sure if they played many/any gigs. I know they tried to arrange one at our school but it was cancelled through lack of interest. I got the impression at the time that they used a set up of synths and a drum machine only. Perhaps they could have incorporated other instruments later. If anyone knows any more i’d be very interested. I had the occasional chat about music with him at the time but I only knew him through a friend’s brother.
As for the Gary Daly album. This sounds very interesting. I only really know China Crisis’s 80s output and have the recent reissues.
Andy B – Here’s that photo. I was wondering what it meant until I saw a Daly interview mentioning it. Pythian is all over the new album, of course.
Special note to chasinvictoria: Note Dalek® on the shelf behind the band…
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Some kind of Doctor Who connection is essential to coolness!
Monk – thanks so much for showing us the picture. Bloody hell!! He looks young! I remember him having a bit of a Phil Oakey hairstyle circa Dare in the early eighties..