Held By Trees - Solace

Kev Rowland

This project has been pulled together by David Joseph (guitar, piano, harmonium, seagull, kalimba, field recording) in an attempt to continue on the work started by Mark Hollis and even used some musicians who had played with Mark to get it right. David recorded all the demo tracks, and from there it was sent to different people to add their contributions, and the result is something which stays true to the Talk Talk ideal but is also taking it in new directions. It includes guitarist Robbie McIntosh (Paul McCartney, The Pretenders, John Mayer), drummer/percussionist Martin Ditcham (Chris Rea, The Waterboys, Nik Kershaw), bassist Simon Edwards (Michael Jackson, Billy Bragg, Fairground Attraction) who all took part in the sessions for ‘Laughing Stock’, while we also have pianist Lawrence Pendrous, and flautist/Clarinettist Andy Panayi who played on Mark’s solo album. Engineer Phill Brown came out of retirement to be involved, as did Denis Blackham who mastered it, while it also includes contributions from Tim Renwick (Guitar – Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Eric Clapton), Mike Smith (Sax – Blur, Damon Albarn, Gorillaz), David Knopfler (Guitar – Dire Straits founding member), Gary Alesbrook (Trumpet – Noel Gallagher, Kasabian, Super Furry Animals) as well as parts from blues/roots legend, Eric Bibb, Dutch rising-star, Just, and ambient composer, Unknown Replica.

The list of those involved is shown on the rear of the booklet in alphabetical order, and David has put himself in there as opposed to placing himself above the others, and apart from the line saying it was written and produced by David one would not know this was a solo album with guests. Now, it is all very good having a list of famous names, but it all comes down to the music, and as is my way I played this long before I looked at the press release. Although I was sent the CD it was just piled next to my computer to be put onto a playlist, so I am literally now just looking at it for the first time. I had no idea that so many people were involved, nor that it was a project where most of the recording was undertaken separately (David says he often wasn’t in the same country at the time, let alone the same studio), as there is a feeling of togetherness about this which is sublime. Talk Talk and Pink Floyd combine in something which is both post rock and progressive, yet also has strong links to ambient, with some delicious lead guitars over the top of the layers, often acoustic as well as electric. It is music which does not work well when being played in a loud environment as this is something which needs to be savoured with headphones as there is so much going on. However, although complex there is also an innate simplicity within this which makes it quite special.

Not every musician plays on every track, but the editing and mastering process must have been intense as this has a majesty and magic about it, such as the trumpet towards the end of “The Tree Of Life” which is just perfect. This album is one which will appear to those who wish to sit and really listen to music as in that respect this is wonderful, while fans of Talk Talk in particular will do well to seek this out.

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