23 November 2014

Anthony Stewart Head & George Sarah - Music For Elevators

Collaboration between Anthony Stewart Head and George Sarah, as requested or suggested by Label ‘Beautiful is as Beautiful Does’ and I sort of wish they hadn’t. I know, not a positive start to this blog, but good grief-Head has a captivating, deeply delicious voice (I could be biased here-that’s just one woman’s opinion), and the synths rippling quiet swirling beats provided by Sarah just don’t do it for me. 

The lyrics have been written by Head with the exception of Joss Whedon’s ‘Last Time.’ Loads of other stuff is happening on the album too, clever mixing/blending/effects sampling, various instruments, guest vocals, including James Masters-Spike a fellow Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor and Alyson Hannigan, and vocals from the lovely Amber Benson, whose sweet voice soars above certain tracks. Goodness knows which I’ve had a glass or two of Wine and I can’t be bothered to check. Suzy Pruden does vocals for All the Fun of the Fair. Justina Machado appears on several tracks. 

It’s not enough that the sweetly self-depreciating name almost ops it straight back into the shop’s ducket as you look through, but the collaboration for me just doesn’t work-sorry lads-you’re both excellent-I can see that-or rather hear that-but to this persons set of ears at least, I want something bigger-louder-heavier-darker. Because only when you hear the darker build ups or the pared down acoustics, can you appreciate the technical lightness of the more electronic sounding track.

I know there will be people who disagree and I’m willing to accept that. Because this does channel Mr Scruff, and I find that dull as fuck too. So maybe it’s just me, but really-especially on the beautifully sung ‘qu’est ce que j’ai fait’ were Head sounds like Joseph Arthur-but with a slightly wider vocal range and in French for goodness sake, the man plays well and speaks what sounds to me like pretty authentic sounding French-melting at his feet comes to mind. But the instrumental beepling at the beginning sounds like the rather dated tracks from Drop Dead Fred, a film I adore, but it has its place. 

I like the music to ‘this town in the rain’ it’s less synths and has some interesting percussion. I’m not sure about the lyrics. I have decided to see this more as a piece of Anthony Stewart Head’s life and his experiences as it appears to be, and in this it is effective. I think this was produced in 2002, and by this time Anthony has worked in television/film for a good few years, and the perspective the album seems to take is one of reflection, of what has been seen and what he has learnt. And also what he appreciates, such as track 9 ‘talk to you.’ It’s lovely, it is an expression of gratitude for a person who has kept him grounded, who has stopped him from feeling too disconnected and alone. The music here is better, or is to me, it’s again less synths, and has strings-violin, viola, cello, beautiful track.

Track 10 is of Anthony’s mother Helen Shingler playing the piano, a beautiful piece and you can see where he gets his musical flair. 

11 Last Time is by far the best track in the album so far, I think it’s because it’s a combination of one of my favourite writers Joss Whedon and singers-Mr Head. Amber Benson and Justina Machado are backing vocals and it’s just beautiful. 

12 Musically ‘one man’s rain’ is my favourite, the samples and mixes work here, and the lyrics are inspired. Such a sense of injustice and its dark synth matches the mood well. Could have done without the backing vocals this time though, I think the bleakness of the track works and the rather uplifting addition of the female vocalist’s jars the finished piece somewhat. Their humming, or the one or two notes in the background later on in the track is a better addition and combines well.

13 an interlude of sorts Segue sounds like a computer game character stuck in a bug and walking repeatedly into a wall for a few seconds before turning and walking to a short piano piece.

14 ‘change’ I’m not sure about the rather dated beats, I just don’t like the light synths stuff. Lyrically it speaks eloquently; they’re insightful, perhaps not paced as well as they could be.  The piano is relaxing, catchy, it works, but it would have been nice if the synths stuff added to it, instead of making the piano the only solid in a fuzzy sounding whirr. 

15. ‘Staring at the Sun’ is a relaxing track, and the synth works well here with the piano, spoken word with effects so that it seems to move from one speaker to the other, a whisper, an echo.  16 you are gently woken up by ‘end game’ you can hear Alyson Hannigan’s warm and friendly voice in the background. It’s a reminiscent sounding track, the manner in which it is sung sounds almost uplifting but you read the lyrics and it appears to be sorrowful about a past mistake. Sounds like…actually sounds like an Eurhythmics track.  

In conclusion, I’m confused. I’m conflicted. I’m not sure what to rate it. 

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

Top track - One Man's Rain

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