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Duncan Sheik — Legerdemain (October 9th, 2015)

Duncan Sheik — Legerdemain (October 9th, 2015)

        Duncan Sheik — Legerdemain (October 9th, 2015)                           Ξ★Ξ   Duncan Sheik dělá náhlý obrat čelem vzad na albu v tzv. ‘druhém poločase’, kdy se přesouvá z vrstvené, elektronické produkce k tlumenému akustickému minimalismu. Oba jeho vlivy — Nick Drake a příležitostnou ozvěnu Elliotta Smithe..., — lze rozeznat v rafinovaných baladách alba Legerdemain, které je ukázkou celoživotní dovednosti nebo obratnosti, což jsem si povšiml už na starším albu “White Limousine” (2006). V doprovodu zejména osamocené kytary nebo klavíru, s příležitostným melodickým nebo perkusním zkrášlením (“Circling”), stupňuje Sheik poetickou lyriku, která je obsazena v ostrém reliéfu, takže jeho síla kejklí se slovy je o to více zřejmá. Všude je příznačný lehce plovoucí rytmus s několika důraznějšími riffy přes jinak venkovský letní den v “Summer Mourning,” a pak dokumentuje pečlivě sledovaný cíl v zlověstné “No Happy End,” zde přidává na větší intenzitě. Zřetelně přináší dynamický obrat až k slabému vroucímu šepotu.
Ξ★Ξ   Album má soudržnost, neustálá zvuková a skladatelská překvápka, spád začínám pociťovat už od čtvrté “Birmingham”, přes následující “Sometimes”, všude je to tlumené Gabrielovské vyprávění (“Warning Light”), zkrátka písňový dar z veletrhu. Málokdy zvedne hlas nad úroveň ukolébavky. Je to skoro jako by se bál — vášeň, bolest a nejistota, obsažená v jeho písních, by mohly explodovat v místnosti jako špinavé bomby, pokud by hrál příliš hlasitě. Odpovědností skladatele je, aby krásnou věc — jednoduchou, hlubokou — pozvedl a rozšířil spíše, než předváděl bůhvíjakou kulturu. Pilobolus, choreograf a skladatel Robby Barnett říká: „Myšlenka je ten nejlepší nápad, dokud tam není nějaká lepší”, což je dobrý přístup k jakékoliv spolupráci.” Ξ★Ξ  Earnest singer/songwriter best known for his ‘90s hit “Barely Breathing.”           
Born: November 18, 1969, Montclair, New Jersey, U.S. 

Location: New York, NY
Album release: October 9th, 2015
Record Label: Kobalt / Sneaky Records, inc. / +180 RECORDS
Duration:     80:27
Tracks:
01 Selling Out     3:53
02 Avalanche     4:53
03 Photograph     3:33
04 Birmingham     3:31
05 Sometimes     5:02
06 Hey You     4:22
07 Warning Light     4:24
08 Distant Lovers     4:31
09 Bicycle Thief     4:38
10 Acquaintance     3:54
11 Brutalized     5:08
12 Circling     6:05
13 Summer Mourning     5:26
14 No Happy End     3:50
15 Half A Room     4:59
16 So There     2:14
17 After All (Bonus Track)     4:58
18 I Wish for the Sun (Bonus Track)     5:06
℗ 2015 Duncan Sheik
Ξ★  All tracks written by Duncan Sheik
Credits:
Ξ★  Nora Ariffin Cover Photo
Ξ★  Milo Decruz Bass
Ξ★  John Duckworth Creative Director
Ξ★  Nyla Durdin Vocals (Background)
Ξ★  Thomas Freeman Creative Director
Ξ★  Jason Hart Keyboards
Ξ★  Jon Hassell Trumpet
Ξ★  Marshall Hudson Package Design
Ξ★  Duncan Sheik Bass, Composer, Engineer, Guitar, Keyboards, Marimba, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Tape Echo, Vocals
Ξ★  Michael Tudor Additional Production, Engineer, Mastering, Mixing
Ξ★  Alvin Witarsa Violin
Ξ★  Doug Yowell Drums
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine;  Score: ****
Ξ★  Some listeners will likely always think of Duncan Sheik as a one–hit wonder, the guy who reached the Top 10 in 1997 with the gently shimmering adult contemporary of "Barely Breathing." Legerdemain, released two decades after his debut album, may carry some of the sighing melodicism and soft, hazy surfaces that turned him into a AAA smash in the late ‘90s, but appropriately, it is a closer companion to the work he's done in the new millennium, playing like a hybrid between his Broadway work (since 2002, he’s composed no less than seven) and his 2011 salute to the ‘80s. Certainly, at a stately 70 minutes, Legerdemain carries the gravity of a stage production, although it's hard to tell if the songs of heartbreak and longing amount to a song cycle. What's easier to discern is how Sheik masterfully splices chilly ‘80s new wave with soul–baring folk introspection. Often, his voice recalls a subdued Peter Gabriel — Sheik never testifies or declares, he merely whispers — a comparison that is sometimes strengthened when the music grows sharper and stronger, but usually, Legerdemain glides by on austere yet warm textures, sometimes hearkening back to the arch artiness of synth pop, sometimes suggesting an open–hearted Elliott Smith, sometimes recalling the best of Dido. Such shifting connected threads keep Legerdemain simmering during its long journey. Ξ★  http://www.allmusic.com/                                                                      Review
JIM ALLEN, SEPTEMBER 30, 201511:03 PM ET
Ξ★  On Legerdemain, Duncan Sheik makes the opposite of roots music. That’s not to say that the sound he’s crafted here lacks any obvious forebears — everything from his well–known love for Nick Drake to the affection for synth–pop Sheik documented on his Covers ‘80s album can be divined over the course of his eighth album. But an agreeably ungrounded feeling dominates the proceedings; even when a solid groove moors a track, Sheik’s melodies dart around with balletic agility that dares you to wonder when they’ll descend again.
Ξ★  The ambition and uncompromising nature of Legerdemain might seem shocking for an artist who started out as a pop star — Sheik’s career kicked off with the alt–pop hit "Barely Breathing" in 1996 — if not for the path he’s trod since then. Sheik’s time as a chart denizen was short–lived, and his output became increasingly adventurous in the years since. By 2002, he was working in musical theater, eventually finding major success with his show Spring Awakening. While Legerdemain’s tunes bear relatively conventional pop–song structures, there’s liberation in the way they move that’s almost certainly informed by the expanded musical palette of Sheik’s theatrical compositions.
Ξ★  The album’s unpredictable nature is another indicator that Sheik cares little about the songs' commercial potential. Legerdemain’s first half finds the singer–songwriter surrounding himself with electronics. Synth lines and digital beats skitter stylishly around Sheik’s vocals and guitar, wrapping the tunes in a sleek (but never slick) electronic sheen, whether he’s getting self–conscious about his own role as a musical storyteller in “Selling Out” (“Everything I’m telling you is a song I’m selling you”) or dreading an oncoming disaster that could be a failing relationship, our imperiled climate or both in “Warning Light.”
Ξ★  Sheik makes an abrupt volte–face on the album’s second half, as he shifts from layered, electronic production to hushed acoustic minimalism. Both his aforementioned Nick Drake influence and an occasional echo of Elliott Smith can be discerned in the artful ballads occupying Legerdemain’s second act. Accompanied mainly by a lone guitar or piano, with the occasional melodic or percussive flourish, Sheik’s poetic lyricism is cast in stark relief, making his power as a wordsmith all the more obvious. Floating like a ghostly presence through an otherwise bucolic summer day in “Summer Mourning,” and documenting a closely observed casualty in the ominous “No Happy End,” he gains greater intensity as he brings the dynamic down to a warm whisper.
Ξ★  Sheik takes his time on Legerdemain, using 70 minutes to unfold his 16–track song cycle, as the tunes frequently edge near or past the five–minute mark. But the album’s beautifully bittersweet farewell kiss, “So There,” is a brief, bare–bones moment of metaphysical reflection; it maintains a free–floating feeling while musing on nothing less than humanity’s place in the universe. Ambition, meet economy — Duncan Sheik has a happy home for both of you. Ξ★  http://www.npr.org/
Website: http://www.legerdemain.duncansheik.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheDuncanSheik
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DuncanSheik
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Duncan Sheik — Legerdemain (October 9th, 2015)

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