Bannerman: The Dusty Dream Hole (Rhythmethod)

 |   |  1 min read

Bannerman: She was a Mountainside
Bannerman: The Dusty Dream Hole (Rhythmethod)

Bannerman is New Zealand singer-songwriter Richard Setford whose purpose in life seems to be to confound those who would easily pigeonhole him. He appeared at Elsewhere previously with his quietly intense EP (here) which stood at some distance from his work with the roiling Batucada Sound Machine and the soulful One Million Dollars.

For this debut album under his own nom de disque he unleashes astonishing firepower on the six minute-plus opener Where the Shadows Are which ends in an inarticulate howl of anguish and wordless rage in the manner of John Cale. This clearly serves notice that this could be a very different Bannerman.

And the follow-up is a dark brown baritone alt.country ballad of some brooding menace (with whistling!) which veers into a kind of bent T.Rex elfin-pop yelp. Terrific.

Although he gets some small assistance (drums, pedal steel, deftly deployed violin and horns) this is mostly Setford fattening his taut songs through overdubs -- although when he leaves space (as per that EP) he is equally persuasive. The acoustic, rural sounding Hills And Valleys is a moving meditation on life and death and the passage of change, and the rapaciousness of government greed.

His vocal power is impressively on display here (Some Kind of Man puts him close to Jeff Buckley in its soaring, poetic ambition, and both Glass Blowers and Just Another Wreck have the epic grandeur of Radiohead at their most intense).

At the other end, the engrossing She Was a Mountainside over lightly fluttering drums stands as the equal of anything from the current crop of mature alt.country songwriters out of the States: he reflects on grief and a relationship as a changing man, and the violin of Siobhanne Thompson is the lovely counterpoint.

Then again, he shifts towards British indie.rock again for the throbbing The Becoming with its shimmering guitar wallpaper and increasingly staccato quality before the simple denouement. These are clever and effective arrangements also.

On the occasion of that EP I said we would be hearing a lot more of Bannerman and that would be a good thing.

Always nice to be right, innit?

Outstanding album. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Wheedle's Groove, Kearney Barton (Light in the Attic)

Wheedle's Groove, Kearney Barton (Light in the Attic)

Seattle’s claims to musical fame run from 60’s garage bands (the Sonics) through Hendrix, grunge and more recently Modest Mouse -- but it also once boasted a strong (if largely... > Read more

Dystopia: Rough Art of the Spiritual (Monkey)

Dystopia: Rough Art of the Spiritual (Monkey)

A soft and engaging mix of languid spoken word/poetry by Liz Maw (who also did the cover art) and music by some very well known New Zealand players (among them Nigel Braddock on piano, keys and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

STEVE McCURRY PHOTOGRAPHER INTERVIEWED: Portraits of the diverse, damaged world

STEVE McCURRY PHOTOGRAPHER INTERVIEWED: Portraits of the diverse, damaged world

The old man emerges from a halo of half-shadow, golden light catching his white beard, pinpoints of sun creating white flares in his penetrating eyes. Like an Old Testament prophet or a... > Read more

Gene Vincent: Woman Love (1956)

Gene Vincent: Woman Love (1956)

When the late Ian Dury appeared on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs it was no surprise that he would pick a song by Fifties rock'n'roller Gene Vincent. The surprise was the song he chose as one of... > Read more