Monday, 19 January 2009

Paul Roland - Nevermore

Germany’s Syborg Music label has done sterling service in 2008, reissuing some of Paul Roland’s 1980s work alongside more recent recordings and this, his most recent album. I gave it a short write-up in Record Collector two or three months back as a joint review with Syborg’s twofer reissue of Danse Macabre & Burnt Orchids (which contains his delightful ‘Dr. Strange’ 7” as one of its bonus tracks) and the revised edition of Re-Animator. I reviewed Black Widow’s edition of Re-Animator on this blog a couple of years back; Syborg’s version, with re-ordered track running and alternate takes is even better than BW’s release – and regular visitors to this blog will, I hope, recall how taken I was with the original.

So I have to say, I’ve become something of a fan having missed a lot of Paul’s work first time around – and it’s one of those moments of serendipity that come along too infrequently. Massimo at Black Widow sent me Re-Animator as part of a batch of promo CDs and though it was one I didn’t place a mainstream music magazine review of, I liked it so much I stretched the (already tenuous) Spacerock rule and included it here. Paul spotted the review, got in touch and tells me he’s had a copy of my Hawkwind book for sometime and equally enjoyed it. So, warm, fuzzy glows all round, I think!

So to his most recent offering, Nevermore, which I think treads some of the musical tones of Re-Animator though it takes its inspirations from different literary areas. The earlier album used the Cthulhu writings of H. P. Lovecraft as a starting pointing for its gothic atmospheres, Nevermore, though it starts with a song that uses Edgar Allan Poe as its touchstone and theme, draws from Jules Verne. There’s a three-track movement, with an overarching title of ‘Last Voyage Of The Nautilus’, which commences with the haunting ‘Captain Nemo’, capturing a wonderful ambience that evokes a chilling and misty launching of the vessel, beautifully observed and composed.

Following the Verne inspired segment, Nevermore gets somewhat heavier in both sound and lyrical content, leading with Roland’s fascination for the back streets and gaslight atmosphere of classic Victoriana. ‘Leatherface’ and ‘Great Deceiver’ are both sinister and stridently unnerving, before ‘Eight Little Whores’ brings the rock levels down again whilst maintaining a baleful vocal delivery. A mention also for the quite lovely ‘Ghost Dance’ where Roland borrows Native American mythology in his lyric and sets them against an engagingly wistful tune.

Nevermore plays out with a couple of a traditional tunes, ‘Sam Hall’ and ‘Foggy Dew’, a real change of pace which some might consider jar just a tad, I liked the former and didn’t care for the latter; but the album itself is a major addition to the Roland catalogue.

Paul Roland German Website

Syborg Music

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