Saturday, April 21, 2012

InGladAloneness - Dalis Car - 2012

The original 1984 effort by Dalis Car, The Waking Hour, was a superb little album that featured textured, electronic backgrounds that somehow communicated an organic quality, not unlike some of Brian Eno's ambient work. Mick Karn's fretless bass shared the spotlight equally with Peter Murphy's vocals and the combination of the two created an atmosphere as fluid and eerie as the best Bauhaus recordings, but entirely different in overall sound.

Following The Waking Hour, Murphy went straight ahead into a more "conventional" solo career, though, ironically, the evolution of his records - leading to a more elemental sound circa aLive Just for Love and, to an extreme degree, Dust - hearkened back to this original recording, rendering it all the more valuable and worthy of another listen for those who may have initially turned away. With Murphy and Karn more or less incommunicado since the 1980s, any follow-up seemed incredibly unlikely if not impossible. Then, following Mick Karn's terminal cancer diagnosis in 2010, he and Murphy miraculously reunited for an encore effort.

As enigmatic as its predecessor, InGladAloneness is as full circle as one could hope to come. The album opens with Murphy's initial hummed vocals immediately bringing to mind Mick Karn's distinctive bass tone and, lo and behold, a few bars later, Karn indeed replicates Murphy's line as the foundation for the exceptional "King Cloud." Complemented by a bass clarinet (also Karn's) and some fabulous Frippesque guitars, "King Cloud" is a fantastic point of entry into the EP and folds neatly into "Soundcloud," immediately marked by a jazz tone coupled with some gu zheng lines (!). Karn's bass slithers throughout and the track is diminished only by the seemingly nonsensical, circular lyric: the seeker is the created / the creator, the sought ... the cloud is the sound, the sound is the cloud.

artwork by Jaroslaw Kukowski is really
deserving of an LP-sized canvas.
the first 250 copies were signed by Japan/
Dalis Car percussionist, Steven Jansen
"Artemis Rise" is resurrected/remade/rebooted from The Waking Hour's "Artemis" and adds a vocal and lyric which simply recounts the origin of its namesake Greek goddess. The saxophone skronks and multi-tracked vocal chorus recalls mid-period Bowie (doesn't much of Murphy, though?). "Subhanallah:" I cannot even pretend to guess at the meaning of this track (or even its native tongue - it's credited as a "traditional" composition). It's a gorgeous meditation nonetheless, a crescendoing duet between Murphy and a female vocalist swelling with strings (aside from Murphy and Karn there are zero other musicians credited in the album packaging).

"If You Go Away" is an absolutely haunting closer. An English translation of Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas," I have always been most enamored with Nina Simone's take on this song but Dalis Car now wears the crown. Opening with sparse keyboards, it soon welcomes a lonely woodwind and acoustic guitar as Murphy enters with a vocal that borders on a poetry reading. Given Karn's illness and passing almost simultaneous to the wrapping of the disc's recording, it's a stirring elegy whose brevity brings a jarring end to this brief EP.

InGladAloneness is a welcome reprise of Dalis Car and another glimpse into the promise of the pairing of Mick Karn and Peter Murphy. For fans of either, it's a no-brainer. Anyone interested in post-punk/new romantic sounds would be well-served to grab this while they can. The Waking Hour came and went quickly and it's no exaggeration to say we'll never hear anything quite like InGladAloneness again.

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