With its crisply crafted songwriting – reminiscent of Leonard Cohen and The Lilac Time – sophisticatedly interspersed with lush orchestration, and lashings of distortion, Excerpts impresses immediately. The resulting (and desired) effect of such interplay is of an album amorphously going in and out of focus. The title, Excerpts, and track 2’s name, ‘Things I Forgot’, set the tone of memory, its distortions, and the difficulties of recalling the past. The overwhelmingly melancholic mindset also suggests that the very act of looking back is a naturally negative act, and that memory is repressive rather than liberating.

An interesting concept certainly, and cleverly executed, but Oliver Alary, the man behind Ensemble and sometime Björk collaborator, fails to entertain. We remember certain things specifically because these past events moved us to joy, misery, disappointment and regret, but Excerpts is an emotionally dead record. Even as it stimulates intellectually, the album’s relentlessly maudlin approach and inability to connect with the outside world leaves it drowning in the quicksand of Alary’s own self-obsession.

Excerpts is a self-confounding concept album that provides a strong argument for looking to the unset, hopeful future, rather than the dead, calcified past.

Release Date 17/01/2011 (FatCat)

Chris Gilliver

I started out writing for the Manchester Evening News as a freelance journalist back in 2008. The idea that I would be given free access to music and gigs seemed somehow miraculous to me, and I proceeded to take full advantage of the situation. When the M.E.N. decided to constrict its coverage to only the very biggest bands, Simon Poole approached me with a plan to make sure that all the very talented musicians of this world that pass through and/or live in Manchester would not go unnoticed. As the New Releases editor here at Silent Radio Towers, it remains my proud duty to cast a critical eye over the music and reviews that come my way in a manner that is both supportive and fair. Above all, I strive to write as entertainingly possible. Favourite musicians include the Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mercury Rev, Os Mutantes, The Knife, Beach House etc etc. I'm a firm believer that all genres (except nu-metal) contain music of great quality...