Gareth Dickson is a long-term collaborator of Vashti Bunyan’s and a deep-reaching songwriter / musician in his own right. Orwell Court is his fourth full-length solo album, continuing his path of quiet, private sounding music. These are songs for voice and folk guitar, but the rich layers of production and instrumental augmentation make ambient texture just as important. CD release from 12k.
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Gareth Dickson is an unusual proposition as he is primarily a singer songwriter who releases on 12K a label known more for ambient composition. His songs though are so drifty and slathered in reverb that it's easy to see how it all fits in. He plays nylon strung acoustic guitar which sounds like Nick Drake playing in the world's biggest church and his voice is whispered and blurred. On 'The Big Lie' this results in something incredible special...the vocal melody and finger picked style eerily recall Gravenhurst as if Nick Talbot was singing down for us in his place in heaven. There is also an intensity at play here as the track where's on as the vocals sound almost quietly angry.
Let's face it - you aren't going to like it if you don't like reverb. Dickson has a very particular signature sound that he rarely veers away from the big church feel but it's beautifully done. I can't help but reference Nick Drake on both the guitar playing and the singing on the magnificently rolling 'Red Road' and there are moments when the album feels like a counterpoint to Matt Elliott's fantastic 'The Calm Before'. I have to admit I was concerned that the final track was a cover of Joy Division's 'Atmosphere' and how such a well known song would fit in with Dickson's very intimate and personal style but I needn't have worried - it's beautiful. It has been reduced to the bare bones of melody but given a warmth lacking in the austere original. It's actually remarkably soothing and bit's like being given a very warm familiar hug at the end of the record.
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