Paul McLaney makes music with people and he also works with the fruits of their labours in terms of protecting and enhancing the value of their work via his role at Mushroom Music. He also make musics on his own, though never more fully realised than on his most recent album ‘Gestalt’ released under The Impending Adorations moniker. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – Burial, Kindred: Technically an E.P. but at over 30 minutes that’s longer than one of my other favourite albums, Pink Moon, which clocks in at 27 minutes. Over these three tracks Burial, rather than building on the aesthetic he is so renowned for, manages to distil his vision to its perfection, to perhaps his definitive statement. Every single component of this imagining is exact, like he has honed his ability to convey the majesty that he perceives in the details of sound. (Check Ashtray Wasp)
2 – King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, Diamond Mine: Most definitely my vocal album pick of recent years. The album plays out like a romanticised, dream-like rendering of songwriter Kenny Anderson’s hometown. Sort of like Joyce’s mind’s eye remembrances of Dublin in Ulysses. The place in question – Fife, Scotland – was once referred to by King James II as “a fringe of gold on a beggar’s mantle.” The collaboration to my mind is one musician recognising and mining for the beauty of what he perceives in another’s work. The result is a shared journey through the beautiful collision of shared isolation. The result ends up being less than specific to an actual place while perfectly conjuring the emotional response to all places that we are connected to.
3 – Max Richter, Recomposed: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Richter has taken one of the most well known and universally loved musical works and re-imagined it by tailoring fragments of the original into wholly new blooms. There is something almost dreamlike about the end results. I would argue that this is because the original work is so wholly recognisable; something we can listen to in our imaginings that re-framing the work as Richter does is most likely triggering some form of hypnagogic response; it most definitely resonates that quality. This is the sound of one mind responding to another over a vast gulf of time, space and collective empathy.
4 – How To Dress Well, Total Loss: It seems like there’s a movement of sorts with artists like How To Dress Well, Active Child and Bon Iver etc. More than just the preference to falsetto but more their motivation. African American music has taken such propriety over the notion of ‘soul’ in music. In the history of European vocal music there is, because of the timeframe we’re covering, a vast period of chorale music which in its inception would have been widely regarded as THE form of ‘soul’ music – that is an intention in music to reach past the physical into the spiritual realm. The marriage of the two was inevitable. The album itself plays out like a collection of love songs to persons no longer available but generates an intimacy for the depth of feeling in each of those relationships that is almost tangible.
5 – Mark Hollis, Mark Hollis: In many ways the Holy Grail of what I’m responding to with all of this music. I always come back to this album. There is a lifetime’s worth of listening in this record in the same way that a great life is endlessly celebrated. This is the sound of a musician touching the veil; it radiates such a reverence to purpose and intent and that radiance is almost holy. It’s as if with this final album he manifested a document of music as it exists for him. Listen to A Life (1895-1915).