Hello is Anyone Out There
Le Grand Magistery
Well, the press release bandied about the names Momus and Scott Walker, which is a pretty tall order for any up-and-coming pop aesthete. So the first question, especially after looking at the faux-Braille liner note translations and the almost-Futurist over art has to be: How arch is it? Not as much as I would have thought, no references to Sartre or cafes or even dark glasses. Epic restraint and inventiveness from a man who would be the next Leonard Cohen, the estimable Mr. Wright. Wright deals in synthesizer symphonies, over which he (world-)wearily sighs lyrics that focus on travels, new beginnings, solitary men, and loneliness. "Sailor on the Sea" begins things on one hell of a high note, with timeless orchestration and piano/synth interplay and a damn strong chorus. Elsewhere, the sea theme continues with "Ocean Boulevard," an entertaining riff on the Velvet Underground's "Ocean," with the same chiming guitars and funeral drumming but with an epic build that wouldn't be out of place on, say, one of U2's more affecting numbers. But did U2 ever have a jazzy keyboard break? "Voyage" caps things off with a mock classical suite, before quietly fading into gulls on the beach and then, yes, silence. It's the stuff of grand designs; of course the heart is worn on the sleeve, but the sleeve is covered by a velvet smoking jacket with leather elbow pads. Twenty years from now, Vegas crooners will be giving his songs the full champagne and bubbles treatment.
Le Grand Magistery, PO Box 611, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303; http://www.magistery.com