Wednesday, 4 November 2009

'Harsh, Final.' review - 8 out of 10 on Foxy Digitalis, and more...

8 out of 10 on Foxy Digitalis! Woo-Hoo!!! Nice mention for Rachel Goodyear's cover art too.

Danny Saul "Harsh, Final"

Let’s get potential “selling points” like the fact that this album was mastered by Valgeir Sigurdsson out of the way, and head straight towards the fact that this is, quite simply, a magnificent album. Danny Saul, who appears to be a mainstay in Manchester’s music scene, may be known to some as a former Xela collaborator. At a time when shoegaze-influenced pop sensibilities are more than a micro-trend, “Harsh, Final”, Saul’s solo debut album after almost ten years of live collaborations and ill-fated band projects, should help him gain wider recognition.

With beautiful three-minute miniatures and epic ambient pop pieces that clock in at around the twelve-minute mark, “Harsh, Final” covers a lot of territory between the opener “Your Death” and the album closer, a deeply melancholic version of “My Escape”. The latter is a cover version – the original being by Hotpants Romance – but Saul’s rendition is so intimate that it’s obvious he’s made it all his own. At the other end of the album, “Your Death” has the listener expect a more ambient album, before, almost six minutes into the track, Saul’s voice has its first appearance. When I first listened to the album, I almost jumped for surprise.

What is it, then, that has kept “Harsh Final” on my playlist constantly for about two months? Its fascinating blend of relaxed guitar strumming and highly concentrated, deep arrangements. But also the dynamics of the longer pieces, the cunning take on the singer-songwriter format this album presents. It’s clearly a pop release, but at the same time way beyond any radio format. And Rachel Goodyear’s intriguing watercolour drawing/painting on the cover doesn’t hurt either. 8/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (3 November, 2009)

Additionally, here's another wacky google translation of another nice review, this time from Jan Willem Broek at Caleidoscoop:

Danny Saul the past 10 years with various musical projects in the weather. Together with Greg Haines he Lion Daler example, earlier this year with a fine live album, but also plays (or played) he formations as Easter, Polythene, Stranger Son Of WB, Barbarians and Tsuji Giri. In Manchester, where he comes from, they even say: "as a band in Manchester continues long enough, Danny Saul will sooner or later join them." All these are no references to his solo work, because Danny is simply always own way. On his new CD Harsh, Final results in very special and experimental singer-songwriter music. In the opener "Your Death", no it is not a happy album, he combines acoustic guitar and captivating vocals to shreds glitch. This provides wonderful poignant, mesmerizing and enigmatic above ambient in which the imagination and little by little the secrets gives. The songs "My Escape" and "Clockwork" let him occasionally silent moments so you become more focused and you know how to get even deeper. The art of omission. He also mixes a soft noise and other electronic sounds by, while he carried on, gently played with his lyrics still bring. "Harsh" is his most explicit song, but it sets it remains mysterious, enchanting atmosphere exhale. All in all it is a modest cross-fertilization of Celer, Seasons (Pre-din), Machinefabriek, Boduf Songs, Jasper TX, Fennesz, Richard Young, Mark Hollis, At Swim Two Birds and David Sylvian. Wonderful songs, you know to nail to the ground.