Famed for writing exquisite pop songs that plough similar furrows to Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson on albums such as Here Be Monsters before turning his hand to being songwriter to the stars, Ed Harcourt follows his expansive major label debut, Furnaces (2016), with a real curveball. Beyond The End is an album of piano-led instrumentals, with inspiration taken from Saite, Mozart, Debussy, Max Richter, Philip Glass and Warren Ellis all imbued with Harcourt’s melodic and mournful sensibilities. LP and CD on Point Of Departure.
Vinyl LP £18.99 PODR003LP
Gatefold LP on Point of Departure Recording Company.
- Shipping cost: £3.35 ?
- Includes download code
CD £9.99 PODR003CD
CD on Point of Departure Recording Company.
- Shipping cost: £1.05 ?
It was the word 'Ed' that panicked me a bit. Putting that word near the term 'singer-songwriter' generally has a bad effect on everything but you must not worry. Ed Harcourt is generally one of the good guys what with his songwriter for hire status and low key solo career and anyway 'Beyond the End' is as far away from what you might expect as is possible and still come under the term 'music'.
It's an album of utterly gorgeous neo-classical pieces led by piano but with beautiful subtle orchestration beneath. Nothing, perhaps is more apt for this drenched November. The melody of opener 'Diving Bell' hints at Ryuichi Sakamoto's exquisite 'Forbidden Colours' just stopping itself in it's tracks from becoming a cover. 'Duet For Ghosts' has an almost Sufjan Stevens feel to it, the melody sounding like the basis for one of the tracks on 'Carrie & Lowell' but instead of Sufjans heartbroken murmur you get a subtle piano lead that rises and falls over the track, hesitant, hushed.
The album is full to the brim of these moments. A lot of neo-classical music leaves me cold but Harcourt here has got it right, it's pretty but not too pretty, it retains that essential dustiness that comes from playing a big old piano rather than having it as a pre-set on your iMac. It will get him soundtrack work no doubt and I'm sure that's the intention but even if just a showcase for his talents in this area it's a gorgeous piece. The sort of thing that threatens to live up to neo classical greats such as Rachel's 'Songs For Egon Shiele', Max Richter's '...And the Blue Notebooks' and Nils Frahm's 'Wintermusik'.
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