Gareth Dickson makes slow-moving acoustic songs and releases them as homespun records. He's performed guitar duties for Vashti Bunyan's live band now and then, suggesting a modest songwriter with a patient mind. There are also hints of an ambient influence in Dickson's work, as he brings in synthwork and manipulates his guitar notes. 'Invisible String' collects together the finest moments in Dickson's tour of Europe from two years ago.
CD on Sleeping Man.
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Limited Vinyl Double LP £20.99 NUV7
2LP on Unwork Inc, Limited copies available.
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“This is beautiful. I want YOU to do it” was the flattering instruction I got from master Phil this morning. He’s right, it is very beautiful indeed. It's an unconventional record in that it was recorded during the midst of various tours Dickson did in Europe in 2012. Most of the tracks were recorded in an apartment lobby in France that gave great reverb, and its this natural sound that helps give the record its magic. That’s not to take anything away from Dickson who plays and sings beautifully throughout. He’s basically doing your intricate, one-man, guitar plucking thing with the most beautiful of rolling guitar chords being joined by simple, unaffected vocals.
There is a folky element to Dickson’s playing but its not over-done. I’m reminded of the early guitar pluckings of James Blackshaw, the gentle evocative end of Durutti Column, and Richard Youngs's unsurpassable Sapphie. The song structures have a lot of similarities to the latter: everything is sparse and unhurried, words are few and far between - added patiently and not detracting from the swarthes of gorgeous guitar. I moaned last week at some of the flatness and dryness of James Yorkston's albums. Dickson may not have Yorkston’s lyrical dexterity but Yorkston could learn a thing or two from this album how a nicely placed reverb can elevate a nice piece to something really special.
This is a gorgeous sounding record. Fans of John Fahey will lap it up, and it also has a foggy melancholy that can only come from someone who inhabits the drizzly British Isles. I’m ashamed to be unaware of Dickson’s other work so am unsure as to where it fits against his back catalogue but this beautifully recorded live album is a triumph.
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