Robert George Saull & The Purgatory Players Gardens EP(Interesting Records) Buy it from Insound
Last year The XX managed to do something quite unique when approaching their debut LP. Instead of following down the usual route of throwing in every production technique available, every possible guitar hook or drum fill they could – they took a step back and approached things with a sense of refinement. The result was a sparse, delicate and lush record that was as beautiful in the moments of space it created as it was on the music that filled it. RGS&TPP have also created something rather unique, they opted for the former of approaches – cramming everything they could lay their hands on into their debut EP, stuffing it so full to the brim it struggled to keep its lid on. However, instead creating a cluttered, mish-mash of self indulgence they have managed to produce a record that hums with vibrancy and radiates refinement in equal measure.
Opening track The Answers is riddled with odes to Scott Walker and evokes a relentless pounding energy throughout. The crisp production is matched by Robert George Saull’s eloquent articulation – creating a sense of clarity that merged with the arsenal of instruments accompanying it, means it’s positively glorious. As it winds down RGS recites what feels like a Shakespearean monologue over twinkling Radiohead-like piano, and while the addition isn’t wholly unnecessary, it certainly doesn’t add anything further to the already illustrious start.
Joanna is a fragile and tantalizing number, the arrangements again shine through and the band carry the song as if it were in their arms. “Joanna I need you to hear me confess/that often I’ve thought of the shape of your breast/but never in lust, just as somewhere to rest” – Morrissey himself would be proud to have spouted such asexual and witty lines.
The Old Willow Tree is a self-confessed nod to Jaques Brel - a quaint ballad that turns into a Tom Waits-like waltz whilst retaining a sense of solitude and longing throughout. The vocals creep and croon in equal measure - the fragility of this song is ever present and there is almost an eerie and ominous tone to the song that feels like something is consistently on the verge of breaking, it’s a pleasurable sense of auditory ambiguity.
If you were to awake from a deep sleep three and a half minutes into closer Fer Elsass then you may be right in thinking your time on earth had come. The vigorous and almost demented chants that discharge are both terrifying and intensely stirring. It’s a gargantuan song - it’s malicious, malevolent and moving, in all the right proportions.
For an unsigned and still relatively new band, this EP doesn’t just show promise; instead it oozes professionalism, competence and frightful delivery. The production is meticulous and sparkles throughout, especially for a small and self financed record such as this. This EP would easily boast a 9/10 but there is something telling me I’ll be holding that back that score for their next outing.23 March, 2010 - 18:28 — Daniel Dylan Wray