Only a day after receiving this album for review came the sad news that Nick Talbot, aka Gravenhurst, had passed away. This album is a rerelease of 2004’s albums Flashlight Seasons and Black Holes in the Sand plus a second CD of unreleased music around that time. His passing is deeply unfortunate, and he was a fascinating talent of strange, melancholic persuasion.
As such, this collection of albums is a stunning tribute. Brilliantly spooky, it draws on the sinister side of the folk tradition and fills it with lyrics of macabre storytelling and soundscapes of gloomy places. The production is stripped down, Talbot’s ghostly voice and focused guitar picking are punctuated by occasional instrumentation of all kinds; the harmonica, xylophone, Theremin, and strange sounds both electronic and animal all make an appearance. Perfect soundtrack for dark walks home on long winter nights, provided you don’t mind being somewhat unsettled.
‘Black Holes in the Sand’ has the slow rhythm of a soul song but the voice of a murder ballad; the sinister repetition of “In the small hours I realised what I had done” raises the hairs on your arms. ‘The Diver’ with only repetitive, hypnotising guitar and the sounds of Talbot’s voice is mesmerising and profound.
With his passing Talbot leaves behind a strange and brilliant body of work. He will be missed.
[Clare Patterson – @clurrpatterson]