Danny Saul - Harsh, Final [White Box - 0000]I actually have a knack for knowing what origin most pieces of music come from. I can spot characteristics that come from places as exotic as India or Japan, or even not-so-exotic like Russia or Italy. And it also extends to cities as well...
Like Manchester, England, as an obvious example. Of course the town has a rich musical history not unlike New York City. What can I say about a city I've never been in? Especially when I'm an American Yankee living in a dying Rust Belt town maybe only a tenth the size of Manchester. Well, from what I know or think I know, it is a city that has weathered a lot of hardship and managed to maintain its dignity through it all. And I always thought that was reflected in its music, whether Joy Division (obviously) or even more mainstream material like Sad Cafe.
And I can definitely tell Danny Saul hails from Manchester. Saul, from what I was able to gather, is a songwriter who was in several bands I've never heard of. Harsh, Final is his first solo album, based around home recordings and then mastered in Reykjavik, Iceland (perhaps going for the sounds of Bjork and Sigur Ros.)
As it is, there's alot of clean guitar tones intermingled with some overdriven, in-the-red ones. The spacious, crystalline production gives the effect of fingerprint-smudges on a glass house. (I actually wound up playing this CD in my computer as I thought my stereo system was going faulty.) Musically this does remind me of early Bark Psychosis except all guitars and no rhythm section. There does seem to be a fluttery rhythm on "Cannonball" however. Saul's vocal delivery is a bit thin here, but that doesn't matter given the whole texture of the music.
The lyrics are for the most part simple and poetic, in the style of Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden. But there does seem to be a pronounced melancholy here that, again, could only come from a place like Manchester.
So if you are still nostalgic for bands like Joy Division and longing for something similar, Harsh, Final might not be up to that level. But this album might be evidence that Manchester still has it dark heart intact after all these years...Lawrence J. Patti