Sunday, 24 October 2010

Andrew Hargreaves new album

Read full review of Defragment - ANDREW HARGREAVES on ©

Andrew has released his new solo album - its on Lacies records and available from Boomkat the Boomkat review is below - my review is simple - its a magnificent piece of work, well done Andrew!

Two pieces of work - Defragment and Fragments come together as a collected piece.
Limited to just 50 copies for the world* This album is a collection of outtakes and misshapes, prepping you for the proper forthcoming new opus by Andrew Hargreaves.  That billing sounds far too dismissive of what this disc actually presents however: across thirty minutes Hargreaves - one half of The Boats - spins through some delightful sound collages assembled from various warm and scratchy recordings, all of which forms a disjointed but ultimately excellent body of work in its own right.  In general terms these compositions tend to give the effect of sketches, as if they've been set to tape without too much of a narrative form being imposed during their construction.  Instead, a piece such as 'Novena For A Recidivist' seems to hover in place, basking in its own disintegrating loveliness.  Snatches of hiss, beaten-up piano and general electronic sleight of hand all play their part, and similarly 'Confusion In Consequence' is almost too heart-wrenching for its own good - Danny Norbury adds to the air of dusty, dilapidated elegance with some magnificent cello work that intertwines nicely with Hargreaves' swishing recording textures and hesitant piano musings.  There are a few short, sub-minute-long tracks thrown in here that really underline the fragmentary feel of the album, but they're every bit as important as the longer, more developed contributions.  'Graphoagramm' is a brief bass interlude, referencing dub and tape delays, while the forty-second spillage of analogue grain that is 'Grammaphone' sets the pace for one of the album's standout compositions, 'Trained By Kindness', whose jarring mix of synth arpeggios and weary piano tunes works a treat.  If these only represent outtakes, the finished album must be quite something.
Best known as one half of The Boats, Andrew Hargreaves has also been spotted plying his trade under pseudonyms such as Beppu and Tape Loop Orchestra, though here he steps out from behind his alternate guises and releases a new solo album under his own name. Back in July, Hargreaves released Fragments, a ludicrously limited (50 copies) collection of out-takes and off-cuts from a (then) forthcoming long-player. Defragment is that long-player, and quite wonderful it is too. Recorded between such venerable and exotic locations as Barcelona, Tokyo and Burnley, Defragment finds Hargreaves taking piano and electronic programming as the starting point for his compositions, whilst intermittently calling upon the cello (and on one occasion, musical saw) of regular cohort Danny Norbury. At the piano Hargreaves plots his way through understatedly lyrical passages that tug at the heartstrings without resorting to sentimentality; there seems to be a minimalist style at work here that recalls Ryuichi Sakamoto's collaborations with Alva Noto, yet true to the form of his prior work, Hargreaves instils a tangible sense of warmth in his recordings. Amidst a prickly, glitch-riddled electronic backdrop, standouts like 'Mystical And Secret Sayings' and 'Variation Is Repetition' find Hargreaves keying his way through a typically inviting production that neatly contrasts the subtle erosion of those instrumental recordings with a distinct digital cleanliness. Meanwhile, Norbury's contributions to pieces 'Just Us Together', 'Handwritten Notes' and 'Confusion In Consequence' give the album that extra lift when necessary - the latter in particular proving to be especially powerful, its muted piano colours and drowsy strings conspiring to create a very autumnal sound palette. If you've ever fallen for Hargreaves' music previously, whether alone or with The Boats, Defragment is sure to enrich and beguile. Lovely.*

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