Friday, October 15, 2010

Motion Picture review - The Dwarf

The title says it all. With its voxless instrumentation and moody, sombre tonality, Bombazine Black’s sophomore release resembles the soundtrack for some low budget, gritty French art Motion Picture.

There are two flaws with this premise: primarily the lack of dual medium. That is to say, there is no French art film, which by negation necessarily reduces Matt Davis’ baby to mood music. This forms the basis of a second quarrel, without lyrics or a film to anchor itself to, the album lacks cohesion. The mood constructed by the admittedly pretty ‘Annelets’, instantly dashed by the mellow pop stylings of the following ‘The New Ruse’, throwing the record’s flow out of wack.

Later, Davis lays it on heavier, with the slow progressive rock intentions of ‘Dark Kellys’, which takes more from ‘Red’ era King Crimson or Isis than it does from New Wave French cinema. The wilful obscurity of the track titles is almost frustrating, as if Davis is attempting to create a hidden world that only those informed (or bothered) enough to seek out will understand. The replacement of his full name on the record with the indefatigable M, doesn’t help stifle the notion either.

Surprisingly, the textural diversity on the record is kept tight. Every track maintains a key trio of mournful, clean guitar work, bass and spare jazzy, drumming. Layered on top of that is a seemingly omnipresent organ warble (as well as all manner of moogs, pianos, synthesisers and other keyed instruments), vibraphone and even a trumpet make an appearance, all of which add a tasty diversity while not straying too far from the cinematic pretensions Davis has set up.

All in all this is a pleasant record; enjoyable as background music or even as a lullaby. It has its moments of poignancy and even beauty but at the end of the day, there is simply not enough structure or cohesion to hold the thing together as a body of work.

Alex Buckley

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