|New Shapes of Life|
Martin Carr — New Shapes of Life (Oct. 27, 2017) Ξ→ About Martin Carr: When the British indie pop band the Boo Radleys called it quits in 1998, founding guitarist and songwriter Martin Carr began a solo career under the moniker Brave Captain, releasing a steady string of albums, EPs, and singles in the first half of the 2000s. His eclectic, more electronic~leaning songs were a far cry from the Radleys’ guitar~based shoegaze style and were also notable for featuring Carr himself on vocals, something he rarely did in the old days. Following the release of 2006’s Distractions LP, Carr abandoned the Brave Captain name, choosing instead to use his given name on 2009’s Ye Gods (And Little Fishes). At this point in his career, the myriad of different styles and influences had begun to blend together into an amalgam of folk, Baroque pop, country, dub, and a bit of Radleys~esque power pop. Ξ→ Aside from a 2012 single, Carr remained relatively quiet over the next several years before returning in September 2014 with his second proper solo album The Breaks. ~ Timothy Monger
Born: Nov 29, 1968
Location: Thurso, Scotland ~ Hamburg, Germany
Album release: October 27, 2017
Record Label: Tapete Records
1. New Shapes of Life 4:10
2. Damocles 3:13
3. The Main Man 4:27
4. Future Reflections 3:44
5. A Mess of Everything 4:12
6. Three Studies of the Male Back 4:16
7. The Van 4:18
8. The Last Song 2:35
℗ 2017 Tapete Records
Ξ→ “The beginning of a new era for a wonderful songwriter ...” — 9/10 CLASH Magazine
Ξ→ “Moments of intense beauty” — MOJO
Ξ→ NEW SHAPES OF LIFE is the third album I’ve made under my own name and my second for Tapete Records. My last LP, THE BREAKS, dealt with my feelings of separation from the world around me. The music was simple, guitars, organs, and drums, but somehow it left me feeling even more dissatisfied than when I started writing it. This time I wanted to swim deeper, catch the bigger fish that lurk in the depths, waiting to be found. [...] NEW SHAPES OF LIFE is the first album I've made where I can stand by every word I've written. It's the first one that sounds like me and it won’t be the last. Martin Carr, Cardiff, July 2017
GARETH JAMES REVIEWS 25 · 10 · 2017 / Score: 9
Ξ→ The beginning of a new era for a wonderful songwriter...
Ξ→ While those that took the time to get to know 2014’s superlative ‘The Breaks’ embraced it as a melodic delight, its creator felt somewhat dissatisfied. It took the seismic impact of David Bowie’s passing to trigger a creative response that would become this album. Abandoning everything he had been working on and starting with the lyrics in order to set the tone, Martin Carr poured out a truth that he had skirted around and attempted to keep in check for some time.
Ξ→ No one genre dominates proceedings, although a combined soundtrack of the life’s work of the Thin White Duke and a mix of Sixties and Seventies soul accompanied the writing of the album. Elements of those clearly had an impact across the eight songs that make up ‘New Shapes Of Life’, but there is one notable change for the already initiated. On this occasion, Carr’s trusty guitar was left out in the cold. Instead, he spent much of his time working with samples and seeing what his keyboard was capable of delivering. As a consequence of these various elements, a luxuriant pop sensibility forms the core of this album.
Ξ→ The mid~paced atmospherics of ‘A Mess Of Everything’ swirl around the dislocated purposelessness of being “stoned in the kitchen, awake at the dawn. The universe opens for me; go back to sleep ‘cause there’s nothing to see.” An aching chorus gives way to emphatic, synthetic horns and a stylophone buzz as beauty comes from pain. While the overarching narrative of ‘New Shapes Of Life’ is largely transparent, Carr inspired by Bowie’s self~expression to explore his own thoughts, the resulting music is overwhelmingly warm and inviting.
Ξ→ ‘Three Studies Of The Male Back’ weirdly, brilliantly, evokes early nineties Bowie — he’s thorough, is Martin Carr — coming on like a turbo~charged ‘Jump They Say’ with its intro, before ascending to majestic places. The phrase “stoned as a goose” is an early doors highlight, but the lyric as a whole is concerned with a lack of identity and offers one of many references to the stark reality of the mirror across the record. Here is a voice trying to break through it all, but caught between laughter and despair even when watching a sitcom. “I’m not as good as I want to be and I’m better than I think I am,” he sings, as part of an account of pretending to see the world like almost everybody else. It’s a remarkable song and very possibly the best thing he has ever released.
Ξ→ Metaphors for collapse abound and Carr’s honesty around the subsequent impact upon his mental health makes explicit a context that is hardly hidden in these beautiful songs. This music poured out and then it stopped. Although a couple of other pieces were worked on, the frame of mind and circumstances behind ‘New Shapes Of Life’ were unique and these thirty~one minutes exist together as a record of that time, untouched since. All of which makes for a cohesive, immersive listen that heartily repays repeated listens.
Ξ→ As well as the confrontational truth of the mirror, the imagery of ‘the van’ runs across three tracks. At times it seems to represent the endless monotony of touring, having begged for freedom from industry grind during ‘The Main Man’ especially, but at others it seems to be coming to take him away. Indeed, the penultimate track is actually titled ‘The Van’ and it audibly pulls up at the start of closing piece ‘The Last Song’, possessing a brief lyric that references an ending of sort, the aforementioned mirror dropping to the floor. As regrets pour out, the final line of the album describing this specific act seems to mark the conclusion of a difficult period. The sound of the door slamming that concludes ‘New Shapes Of Life’ appears to confirm this. Hopefully, this ending also marks the beginning of a new era for Martin Carr, an artist in rare form. 9/10 Words: Gareth James Ξ→ http://www.clashmusic.com/
by Ljubinko Zivkovic. Rating: 8
Ξ→ ... New Shapes of Life seems to have served as a way to recovery for the man since it is a source of very dense, diversified music that covers almost everything he has done so far musically; Bowie, the latter~day Boo Radleys, soul, and all the ‘modern’ sounds of today. The lyrical density of the album does not make it such an easy listen at first, but repeated listenings of this material reveals rich rewards for all who persist. Songs like “Future Reflections” and “A Mess of Everything,” as well as all others, present great musical images and lyrical insights into Carr inner thoughts and feelings. (excerpt) Ξ→ https://soundblab.com/reviews/albums/19344-martin-carr-new-shapes-of-life
Ξ→ NEW SHAPES OF LIFE is the third album I’ve made under my own name and my second for Tapete Records. My last LP, THE BREAKS, dealt with my feelings of separation from the world around me. The music was simple, guitars, organs, and drums, but somehow it left me feeling even more dissatisfied than when I started writing it. This time I wanted to swim deeper, catch the bigger fish that lurk in the depths, waiting to be found.
Ξ→ I had spent much of 2015 in my studio trying to write songs for pop stars, getting nowhere and feeling useless, when David Bowie died. I abandoned my writing and immersed myself in his records, films and biographies. I did nothing else for weeks. The records are great, of course, but what I took from Bowie was the responsibility of the Artist, how important it is to express oneself through a chosen medium. I was wasting my time scrabbling around in the dirt for pennies, making myself more and more miserable. I reflected on how many years I’d wasted chasing smoke and mirrors, living the life of an artist but neglecting the art.
Ξ→ I ditched everything else I was working on and decided to write a new album rather than waiting until I had a few songs. I started completely from scratch, writing and recording, often at the same time, in my home studio in Cardiff. I was looking for a sound and a voice to call my own. That was the starting point. The theme was to be myself, to attempt to discover what made me tick, to work out why I behaved the way I did. I wanted to go deeper and find more room in the depths.
Ξ→ Lyrics were written first, unusual for me, but because they were the driving force of the songs, they had to be right. I concentrated on what I wanted to say rather than trying find rhymes and scansion. Because these songs were written under a spell it has its own universe, its own language: phrases and symbols and images are repeated throughout, mirrors, reflections, The Van. “New Shapes of Life” was the first song I finished. The opening lines opened everything up for me:
Of muted desire
And no fit state
I know my place
Behind the glass
Ξ→ Those lines say more than all the songs I’ve written. They are my truth, that's how I knew I was on to something. I was honest. Possibly for the first time. I stood naked in front of the mirror.
Ξ→ There was no sonic template in mind, though I was listening to a lot of soul music — Philly, Northern, Motown — along with the Bowie stuff. I wanted to change the way I sang, I didn’t really want to play anything, Most of the music is stuff I sampled and fucked with and then played it back in on a keyboard. I don’t think I picked up the guitar once.
Ξ→ I wrote until I was empty. I worked on ten songs but in the end, only finished eight before the spell was broken. I had been deconstructing the way I’d worked for the better part of two decades but found I’d somehow disassembled myself. I began finding it hard to put the pieces back together.
Ξ→ I had pushed and I pushed until my mental wellbeing had begun to suffer. I became paranoid and anxious. I was talking to myself and waving my arms around until I finally broke down and told my family and called the doctor. Something I should have done many years before.
Ξ→ I tried going back to it but I could never find the same space. I then spent six months looking for someone to mix it. In the winter of 2017 I recorded a new single, “Gold Lift,” inspired by the photograph of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage taken the day after the U.S. presidential election. I asked Greg Haver, a Cardiff producer and friend now living in New Zealand, to help me with the mix for that. He tidied it up, replaced my electronic drums with his own playing, and then sent it back over for Clint Murphy — a New Zealander now living in the U.K. — to do a proper mix. This worked out so well that I decided to follow the same process for NEW SHAPES OF LIFE.
Ξ→ I’m on medication now; it feels like making this record was the end of that part of my life. Now I'm on the other side of the glass where everyone else is. I still don’t fit but I'm fine with that. NEW SHAPES OF LIFE is the first album I’ve made where I can stand by every word I’ve written. It’s the first one that sounds like me and it won’t be the last. Martin Carr, Cardiff, July 2017
|New Shapes of Life|