The Impending Adorations is the name Paul McLaney has given to his latest set of sonic landscapes. Across his Gramsci moniker and work under his own name, McClaney has combined Nick Drake-derived guitar with beats and pieces of the so-called ‘folktronica’ tagline. But he’s also added the grunt of electric guitars at times, or disappeared behind the laptop and keyboards entirely. Much has been made of a voice that echoes Bowie or Bryan Ferry but I’ve always heard the rich timbre of Paul McLaney, something that is all its own and capable of far more than Bowie in terms of an emotional range – and impact. There’s no icy detachment. McLaney’s voice is what warms you into the song.
Gestalt has been released with little fanfare, $7 for you on Bandcamp. Go! Now! And it is a beautiful, beguiling album. The almost heart-stoppingly gorgeous opener, Juvenile Love Story, rolls out over nine minutes. Nothing so juvenile here, more a case of reinventing the love song, telling the story from deep within the song; imagine an Aphex Twin piece that has finally – perhaps inevitably – imploded. And in and around the rubble of the beat, the scatterings and chaos, comes that sonorous, soaring voice – a rumination that stops you in your tracks.
Best Intentions carries that weight over and into itself; each track absorbs the tonne of heart and tone of soul from the previous piece. It’s unfair to call these songs in a sense. I think of them as carvings, chiselled into place with voice and just the sinew from a groove, a beat that doesn’t feel like it quite has a pulse but never fully flat-lines. And as McLaney sings over and over about having “the best intentions” I call to mind Paul Buchanan’s Mid Air – just for the way that a single line can stick out and act for every other line to come, using both the foreshadowing and economy of Raymond Carver, or, since it’s still songs we’re on about, in a sense, Paul Kelly.
Best Intentions is Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up recast for the generation convinced that James Blake is some type of crooner. But I thought more of Active Child than Blake; or Burial slowed down, the load lightened musically, the dramatic weight carried with the vocal.
I can’t stop playing this album – because for all these comparisons I’m throwing at the page here, to show worthiness, to offer a glimpse of the sound, this record doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard. And I love that. It sounds a lot like Paul McLaney – different though, even if somehow (still) the same. It sounds like the record he could have made ten years ago, and probably wanted to. It sounds like a record he might make again in another ten years time. And it sounds like one I’ll still be playing in ten years. I hope so. I think this is a quiet stunner.
For more information/background about the album – click here. And for one more song for now, the closer, Lose Sight Of Love click << there.