Wednesday, 28 October 2009

More Reviews for 'Harsh, Final.'

Massive thanks to all who reviewed the album, and all of you who bought it.



Manchester-based singer-songwriter Danny Saul doesn't hedge his bets on his debut album Harsh, Final. The one-time member of rock outfit Tsuji Giri and current partner to Greg Haines in Liondialer opens the album with a bold twelve-minute set-piece (“Your Death”) that starts out as a bucolic acoustic guitar folk instrumental but then extends into experimental territory with acoustic and electric guitars melding into a blur, a move that makes the music feels like it's lifting off from earth for ever-ascendant heights. Halfway through, chords penetrate the haze, followed by staggered layers of Saul's singing voice, after which the music again incrementally decompresses until it concludes with the same acoustic guitars with which it began. It's an auspicious introduction to a collection that identifies Saul as someone who may share certain things in common with the singer-songwriter tradition but shares just as much with explorative electronic practices too. The combination of vocals and guitar-generated sound sculpting makes for an unusual and arresting mix, and one that helps Saul's album separate itself from the competition.

If anything, Saul plunges even deeper into experimental territory when he uses an industrial churn of scrapes and creaks as an unsettling backdrop for his cryptic vocal musings during “My Escape.” Strip his impassioned vocals away from “Clockwork” and you'd be left with a grainy, guitar-based ambient meditation overflowing with stuttering effects and phasing treatments; as it is, the two components work together in reinforcing the track's mood of desperation. Framed by two brief instrumentals (“(harsh),” “(final)”), the recording's longest piece (its climax, really), the thirteen-minute “Cannonball,” ups the emotional ante even more by escalating the aggressive attack to such heights the music could be called shoegaze during its loudest moments. The album ends with the Hotpants Romance composition “Stop Escaping” (from It's a Heatwave ) that Saul delivers in a more traditional singer-songwriter style—not an unwelcome choice given the consistently untraditional pieces that come before it. Each of the album's seven pieces flows into the one after, making the fifty-three-minute recording feel as if it were laid down in real time, all of which helps make Saul's Harsh, Final come to life with an enhanced sense of urgency and immediacy.

November 2009

All Music:

This, Danny Saul's debut solo album, is a thing of beauty. And just like true beauty, it takes its time to unfold, disclose itself, and charm. It's only once you let yourself fall under the spell that its beauty becomes obvious to you. Saul is a singer-songwriter, but he works in a time span usually avoided by his fellow folksters. On Harsh, Final, the average song lenth is 10 minutes. Moods get set, electronic textures are developed, arrangements build up, and only then come the vocals (almost six minutes into "Your Death," for instance), subdued, soft-spoken, but emotionally-charged. The songwriting, attention to atmospheres, and equal importance devoted to the song, its delivery, and its studio dressing strongly evoke David Sylvian and Fovea Hex, with a hint of Peter Broderick thrown in, and maybe an influence from Peter Hammill's quieter, studio-centric side (Fireships, Thin Air). Ben Frost's The Theory of Machines also comes to mind, although Saul makes prominent use of the acoustic guitar as a foundation instrument. The highlights are "Clockwork" and "Cannonball," the latter a slow-boiling 13-minute song escalading to a powerful bottleneck guitar climax. Tacked at the end of the album, almost as an afterthought, is a cover of Hotpants Romance's "Stop Escaping," approached in a raw guitar-and-vocals way that makes too much of a contrast with what came before. That minor point aside, Harsh, Final is a focused effort, each track flowing seamlessly into the next, in a hazed disbelief-suspended mood. Beautiful and very impressive.

Thaddi Hermann - De:Bug Magazine (Berlin) (November Issue):

(rough translation through Google Translator!)

If this man shakes off the darkness, chewing the cud, his DSP escapades scale back a bit, then he becomes a star. Danny Saul, from Manchester has what it takes. His first album is a collection of introspective songs with a timid vocals. The rest is guitar. In each tone has as much space as he needs. Depressed and in the tails slightly distorted, so the frustration ebbs in our ears like the tides. Gently, yet only irrevocable. This is fascinating and just a little excessive. As if he wants to hide something is not quite sure if it fits everything so well. Let it out, Danny, you want to call out to him because it fits perfectly. So why did he build this protective shell remains unclear.

Finally, a link here to the review on Fluid Radio - same review as God Is In The TV.

Friday, 16 October 2009

First Reviews for Harsh, Final.

From God Is In The TV:

The debut solo album from Manchester ‘singer-songwriter’ Danny Saul is an intriguing affair, as is immediately apparent from the beautifully haunting artwork. This is an aesthetic which carries across in to the music. It begins with a slow acoustic guitar which is soon accompanied by a bed of swirling celestial tones gradually building layer upon layer of beautiful textures, the crowning one being that of Saul’s resonant vocals. What begun as a fairly straightforward track fans out in to a sprawling sonic collage full of crackling tape hiss, and establishes Saul has more of an experimental ambient artist than your standard acoustic warbler.

My Escape follows a similar blueprint; with a slow creeping ambience punctured only by Saul’s dulcet vocals. The slow, laconic nature of the music gives it a semi-improvised feel which compliments the length of the tracks, there’s an understated majesty to these songs which is reminiscent of David Thomas Broughton. Many solo artists and particularly singer songwriter types make the misguided decision to crowd their songs with as many overdubbed instruments as possible to engineer some feeling of grandeur, it’s great to hear someone embracing the limitations of the one man band and in fact using to great effect. The minimal nature of the compositions at times make them seem more like incidental music than songs, the kind of thing you can fully imagine being used in a slow burning psychological horror. Of course the unsettling atmosphere and the ambiguous morbidity of the lyrical content help to inform this perception; My Escape makes use of wonderfully sinister imagery such as “your bleeding eyes’.

Cannonball is very much the centre piece of the album, clocking in at 13 minutes. It begins with distant sliding electric guitars drenched in reverb before blossoming in to a sprawling piece of salacious acoustic guitar work which is then draped in layered vocals which gradually swell with repetition until it is gleefully stripped right back to nothing. It then builds again, layer upon layer, sounding like a less dazed version of Grouper until the introduction of a wall of dissonant electric guitar pushes the track over the edge; it’s a moment of genuine euphoria and you can’t help but feel as though this is the moment that the whole album has been building towards. Arguably the most beautiful track on the album though is also one of the shortest, and precedes the main event, (Harsh) is again a meld of slowly picked acoustic guitars paired with a deep reverberating bass line, it is an entrancing master class in minimalism which recalls Set Fire to Flames, or GY!BE at their most languid.

The closing track is a cover of Manchester lo-fi trio Hotpants Romance. This is more standard singer songwriter fare, and having listened to the original Saul has done well to even craft this from it. Try as he does though he cannot bring to it the tortured eloquence which he can his own material, and ultimately it is the poor link in an otherwise excellent album and would have been better saved for another release. At times the record can feel frustratingly slow, but for the most part it is wholly captivating.

...and from Monsieur Delire:

A very strong debut effort from Manchester’s Danny Saul. I could describe him as a singer-songwriter, but his songs are so long (ten minutes and over) and so textural that he is better aproached from the experimental pop angle. David Sylvian and Ben Frost are good points of comparison, but personally, throughout the album, I’ve been thinking of Fovea Hex’s ethereal songs. I really like this CD. The cover of Hotpants Romance’s “Stop Escaping” is somewhat askew, even tucked at the tail end of the record, but that’s minor flaw

...and also from Seb Bassleer:

Danny Saul is een talentvolle, atmosferische songwriter uit de onderbuik van Manchester die daar al een tijdje in het circuit meedraait. Het is daarom stilaan tijd dat men hem buiten Greater Manchester en Groot Brittanië leert kennen. Na 2 eerdere ep's ('Balance' en 'History +3') en het gruizige Liondaler project met mede Mancunian Greg Haines is het eindelijk de beurt aan zijn volle debuutalbum. Achter de knoppen van dit album zat Valgeir Sigurðsson, toch niet de minste producer als het gaat om heldere en experimentele geluiden. Toepasselijke IJslandse zwalmzuchtelementen van Sigurðsson glijden door zijn muziek als zachte passages. Met momenten dwalen de klanken zelfs af richting Sigur Rós door meerstemmige en krakerige geluidsschemeringen. Zijn composities voelen als landsschappen, gevuld met resonanties, drones, ruis en noise flarden die nooit scherp aanvoelen. Een werk van multi-gelaagde effecten alsof het geschreven is voor uitvoering in een katedraal. Op momenten heerst er een uitgestrekte country sfeer met een bijrol voor fingerpicking. Invloeden die hierbij grip hebben gehad op Saul zijn Bob Moult, Steve Albini en met name Richard Thompson. Als men 'Harsh, Final' wilt vertalen naar muzikale parallelle houvasten, dan luisteren Sylvian Chauveau, Grouper en Boduf Songs zeer dichtbij mee. Saul maakt zijn muziek immers met electroakoestische gitaar, loop en delay pedalen en een geprepareerde laptop, hetgeen aanzet tot het bouwen van instrumentele laagjes die bijgesteld worden naargelang de compositie duurt. Saul's zang is melancholisch lijzig en lijkt soms bijna gesproken door de traagheid van zijn woorden. De song 'Cannonball' is de crux van deze prachtige verstilde plaat met IJslandse en dronesque country sferen. Een zachte zalving voor de naderende donkere dagen en gemoedsstemmingen. In het machtige online archief van het VPRO programma Dwars kunt u trouwens een mooie live sessie horen, eerder dit jaar opgenomen. (

Which through google translator, comes out like this:

Danny Saul is a talented, atmospheric songwriter from the underbelly of Manchester who for a while in the circuit veteran. It is therefore about time that he was outside Greater Manchester and Great Britain to know. After 2 previous ep's ( "Balance" and "History +3') and the gritty Lion Daler project with fellow Mancunian Greg Haines was finally turn his full debut. Behind the bars of this album Sat Valgeir Sigurðsson, not the least producer in terms of clear and experimental sounds. Applicable elements of Icelandic zwalm sigh Sigurðsson slip through his music as soft passages. With moments wandering off towards the sounds even by Sigur Rós polyphonic sound and squeaky-engined twilight. His compositions feel like country shelves, filled with resonances, drones, noise and noise patches that never feel sharp. A work of multi-layered effect as if written for performance in a cathedral. At times there is a vast country atmosphere with a supporting role for finger picking. Influences that have had this grip on his Bob Saul Moult, Steve Albini and especially Richard Thompson. If "Harsh, Final 'to translate into musical parallel tenons, then listen Sylvian Chauveau, Grouper and Boduf Songs very close to them. Saul makes his music because of electro acoustic guitar, loop and delay pedals and prepared a laptop, which encourages the building of instrumental layers to be adjusted depending on the composition lasts. Saul's drawling vocals are melancholic and sometimes seems almost spoken by the slowness of his words. The song "Cannonball" is the crux of this beautiful quiet country dronesque plate with Icelandic and spheres. A soft anointing for the upcoming dark days and mood. The powerful online archive of the VPRO Dwars program you can also hear a great live session earlier this year. ( (s.b)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

'Your Death' played on Stuart Maconie's Freakzone

Pretty darn self explanatory really innit! Biggups to Stuart Maconie for playing 'Your Death' on last Sunday's show. The show is online for a few more days to listen to here. Thanks for the support yo!