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After I had committed myself to reviewing the Coridian show on August 21st, I discovered there were a few other shows also due to take place the same night (now all postponed – guys please book them all for different dates!), one of which was Gramsci. The band are led by Paul McLaney (vocals, guitars, keyboards, programming) who first formed the band with David Holmes back in 1998. After releasing two albums in New Zealand they decamped back to the UK for a while, where Sony picked up on their third album ‘Like Stray Voltage’ in 2005. The band broke up not long after, with Paul then performing acoustically, before falling into ambient electronica, theatre work, touring as a sideman, A&R etc. He has now decided it was time to bring all his musical journeys and influences into one place and has returned with the first new album under the Gramsci banner for 15 years. Here he has been joined by Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, Bullet for my Valentine) on drums and percussion, while for live work they also involve Jol Mulholland (Gasoline Cowboy, Goldenhorse, The Checks, Racing). When asked about the album, McLaney says ““We exist in a culture of inheritance and legacy, within family, culture, artistry, and philosophy. We are born into it. How do we move on from past destructive behaviours and transform our lives, to discover our life purpose? That’s really what ‘Inheritance’ is about”. There is a very clever use of lyrics at play here, this is music and words which are designed to make us think and contemplate, and the use of a swear word during “Like a Scar” sounds both totally right, but also harsh given the way it is sung so it is almost hidden. The obvious musical comparison for a lot of this album is Pink Floyd, with plenty of Gilmour-style guitar solos, but I also feel there is another song which has had an impact on the album, namely Chris Rea’s “The Road To Hell”. But one of the real joys of the album is not only the depth of material but also the variety, and he is more than happy to step the tempo up a notch for the likes of “Pride & Joy”, but that contrasts totally with the song which follows, “Icarus”, which sounds far more as if it has been taken from a film. The music is indeed very visual, and the idea is to perform this at a theatre with accompanying effects, which is something I am definitely looking forward to. This is yet another truly stunning album from a Kiwi artist, and with our borders currently closed to big name acts from overseas let us hope that many more punters will go out and support the bands on their own doorstep. For all those who want music to take them to a place where there is room for thought and contemplation, where there is real depth and none of the shallowness many take for granted. The more I have played this the more I have learned and am much the richer for it.
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