Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Out Beyond The Blue EP Review

Michael Ainsley
Out Beyond the Blue (EP)

Philophobia Music
I first came across Michael Ainsley playing an acoustic set at Wakefield Town Hall as part of the Long Division 2012 festival. Attracted by their name I had made my way to the Town Hall to see the Wet Nuns and, having arrived early, wandered in to Michaels set to kill time. I was only half paying attention as he picked out the introduction to a song and began to sing the opening lines:

“You’ve got chimney pots on your patio
They don’t blow smoke, but they blow”

This is probably the second finest opening couplet* to any song I can recall. The song was Wake when you die.

So, let’s start with the domestic stuff.

Out Beyond The Blue is Michael Ainsley’s first release on Philophobia since his 2011 debut album Slipsmash.

The three track EP kicks off with Only Strike When You’re In The Zone. Opening with a distorted melodic, winding guitar line over insistent drums before announcing its presence with a joyous HEY! A statement of intent…. a wake up call. The track is driven by an infectious, bouncing melody leading up to a power chord chorus “only strike when your in the zone, close your eyes and you’re walking home”. On first listen this is the stand out track on the EP. But there is more to come.

The tempo slows down for the second track; Rainy Lonely Day is a quieter and more reflective number with a piano intro and stripped back instrumentation. It starts well with a plaintive vocal which if I am being honest deserves the stronger chorus enjoyed by the other two tracks. The song is not without its merits but is, to a degree, overshadowed by the two songs which bookend it.

The title track Out Beyond The Blue is a beautifully arranged and well realised song. Musically well crafted, well written and well.......... wonderful. It has great subtlety, both musically and lyrically. The verse is coloured with touches of violin and understated guitar before it bursts into the most glorious harmonies of a chanted chorus. A big beautiful sea of sound as the song kicks off its shoes to dance. This is the stand out track on the EP.

Michael Ainsley, musician and songwriter, has released an EP of real quality. I have gone about my daily chores, work and leisure for the past 10 days with Out Beyond The Blue as my soundtrack. Two points are worthy of note.

Firstly the EP is “a grower”. This can only be true if the songs have enough subtlety to pass you by on the first few listens. Once the harmonies and assured arrangements worm their way into your head the songs reveal their real strength.

The second point is this. Over the last week I have found myself singing both “Only strike...” and “Out beyond the blue” as I go about my day. By way of comparison I have also been listening to Plumb by Field Music and to be honest I can’t remember a bloody line of it.

Out Beyond The Blue can be downloaded on a name your price basis. Buy it. It is joyous!

Karl Shore

*The finest opening couplet I can recall to as song is:
”It was the biggest cock you'd ever seen / But you've no idea where that cock had been”. (Packs of Three by Arab Strap) Let me know if a better one exists.

No comments:

Post a Comment