Rhys Marsh

‘Fragile State’ Review: Losing Today (English)

7th November 2008

Arriving in our gaff accompanied by a hand-written note, the debut full-length from Rhys Marsh And The Autumn Ghost has been eagerly anticipated by yours truly since stumbling across their MySpace site this time last year.

Formerly fronting the criminally overlooked Mandala, who after several self-promoted releases (all incidentally achieving quiet acclaim), called it a day, Rhys Marsh upped sticks and relocated to Trondheim, Norway to start afresh. Gathering together a multi-national backing band to help him realise the sounds inside his head, the meticulously crafted compositions came slowly – the first fruits appearing on the two track debut single ‘I Will Find A Way To Reach You / Spoken’. The magic within those tender and delicate grooves was as spellbinding as it was hauntingly beautiful. Blending a sophisticated classicism with a spectral noire-like folk nuance, they indicated a rare and sensitive artistry working at their core. A compelling artistry – lush, vivid, emotionally crushed and attuned to the same frail sense of timeless enchantment to which Nick Drake once lay claim to.

Several months on from that release and ‘The Fragile State Of Inbetween’ finally rears its head, a demurring 10 track collection that veers between heartbreak and euphoria, whilst touching base with all the boundaries between. A dizzying spectacle of spell-woven bespoke rustic beauty, that features amid its grooves both ‘Spoken’ and ‘Can’t Stop The Dreaming’, the cut that originally entrapped our attention all those months ago via their MySpace page. The former, a crushingly sweet, though wintry-tinged slice of solemn string-braided beauty, stained with a bracingly aching aura, that seductively cuts you to the quick and mellow, with some seriously sophisticated laid back lilts. The latter, which still after all this time reminds me of a blossoming Dream Academy fronted by David Sylvian, scoring emotion-sapping moments of pop grandeur.

These hatchlings, as fragile and frail that they are, are delicately bound with an intensely penetrable romance, that’s dappled amid wells of graceful longing, all impeccably serviced by tides of elegant songcraft. There’s scarcely a dry eye in the place in the company of the spectrally-nimble ‘Don’t Break Your Heart’, as it wallows with forlorn introspection, deftly decorated by a softly twinklesome drift-like caress.

Elsewhere, there’s the ghostly canter of the richly-conceived pastoral-minimalism of the melancholically-reflective ‘Undone’, beautified by its delirious unfurling midway through, wherein the supportive crests of the arresting string arrangements usher in, as if to offer a conciliatory shoulder to cry on. Then there’s ‘I Watched, As You Disappeared’, with its hollowed and haunting silent glaze, ripped briefly by the fractured ripple of unravelling discordance. However, it’s ‘When All’s Done’ that provides the set with its most defining moment. A sumptuous slice of pristinely breezy arcing love-noted sugar-pop, peppered by euphoria-heralding brass arrangements, that had us imagining Belle And Sebastian revisiting Nick Drake’s ‘The Thoughts Of Mary Jane’, under the arrangement auspices of David And Bacharach, which had us all a swooning. Classy.

Key tracks:
When All’s Done
All Light Fades
Spoken
Can’t Stop The Dreaming

Mark Barton

losingtoday.com

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