© ℗ 2013 Series Aphonos/Bronze Rat Records
THIS ALBUM DOWNLOAD FEATURES HIGH RESOLUTION COVER ART ONLY. LINER NOTES ARE NOT AVAILABLE.
Gemma Ray’s last album, Island Fire, was praised for its grand modus operandi, where she took her sideways blues and reverberating pop-noir to dizzying new sonic and orchestral heights. It included a collaboration with Sparks, won her an appearance on Top of the Pops, and a new occasional backing band in the shape of the 65 member-strong Filmorchester Babelsberg. She had already recorded Down Baby Down by the time Island Fire was released, but it’s more sinister and haunting, less fitting for a summertime unveiling.
Recorded in a few days at Candy Bomber (ensconced in the former CIA headquarters wing of Berlin’s intimidating Tempelhof Airport), with a handful of musicians namely Thomas Wydler (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) on drums, Rory More on organ, and Wilhelm Stegmeier on bass, it is 30 minutes of largely instrumental compositions coated with choral enhancement and ominous yet beautiful vocal motifs. Gemma herself takes care of all vocal, guitar, piano, clavioline, glockenspiel, melodica and dulcimer duties.
For want of a better description, Gemma calls them “fantasy soundtracks,” as the music escapes the trappings or the expectations of the pop or rock song. “It’s probably my most honest and satisfyingly free work to date,” she says. She makes no secret of her love of composers such as Komeda (of Roman Polanski soundtracks fame), Morricone, John Barry, or Jack Nitzsche (see Tarantino’s Death Proof), and this collection of compositions reveals Gemma’s more darkly musical imaginings. They unfold on their own pictorial journey through deserts, mountains and ghettos, lithely sinking through jazz-noir, gothic folk, fucked-up rock’n’roll, and out into deathly space.