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Crommie; Daniel: Shadowgraph

Released initially in 1991, Shadowgraph is one of the numerous "New Weave Archive Series" digital reissues, giving a welcome opportunity to look back over the lengthy, varied music of Daniel Crommie of Group Du Jour. Considering that some of the reissues available stretch as far back as 1976, it is no surprise that across Crommie's huge catalogue of work a wide variance in approach and sound can be found, with Group Du Jour sitting somewhere between electro-pop and ambient, while Crommie's solo work can be ethnic based, electronic, dance oriented or progressive art rock. On Shadowgraph we get aspects of all of the above.

As ever from Crommie, the space left between the notes and beats on his songs is almost as important as the music it surrounds, with a Spartan approach being favoured throughout. It makes for enigmatic listening that feels remote and cosy at the same time, as Crommie utilises all manner of instruments to get his point across. Flute, whistles, woodwind, dulcimer, reed pipe, synthesizers - they are all present and more, with the mix of organic and artificial sounds always being a recurring theme of this man's vision. Instrumental "Reconstruction" floats on a flute theme as ethnic percussion throbs and clacks in the background, synthesizers appearing occasionally to pierce the dense, yet sparse atmosphere. Whereas the uptempo crack and shout of "Touching Tongues" offers up a different kind of instrumental focus altogether. Vocally Crommie, who works completely alone on this release, bar one co-authored lyric, never strays far from his austere electro-80s style delivery, adding an almost Sparks or Talking Heads feel to the beat lead "Hall Of Fame" or Black like monotone drone to "The May Day". Considering the seriousness of the music, the vocals can on occasion tip the balance into darkness, with very little light offered to balance the gloom. Some may find it an enigmatic approach, others starkly uncompromising. Either way it certainly works with the music, if not always in a way that lifts it to the pleasurable heights expected.

Sometimes hard to engage with - but then, that may have been the intention - Shadowgraph illustrates the very eclectic nature that makes Daniel Crommie such an interesting artist to engage with, although it possibly wouldn't be a wise starting point on a journey through his vast catalogue.

Track Listing
1. Small World
2. Fear Of Negative
3. Moon Circle
4. The May Day
5. Reconstruction
6. Touching Tongues
7. Hall Of Fame
8. I Want To Know
9. The Night Is Black
10. Little Bird/Past Tense Trance
11. New Moon Silhouette (bonus track)

Added: April 27th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: New Weave blogspot
Hits: 1836
Language: english

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