Music For Voyeurs - Debut
Owain Paciuszko 04/11/2010
Rick Senley cropped up earlier this year (the beginning of September on this site, no less) under the moniker I Am A Man With A St. Tropez Tan, it was a decent record of ambient, electronica and on opening track I Can't Believe Why Someone Like You Would Want To Sleep With Someone Like Me there's a definite flavour of that album's atmosphere, with its introductory phone message sample, romantic piano line and burbling synths; it's joined by a fuzzy electric guitar line at one point and has a kind of wonky charm like a broken Brian Eno record. Similarly there's an orchestral leaning to Getting A Good Time with its strings, a flutter of operatic vocals and then quirky beatbox percussion that gradually shifts up a gear into an erratic drum-n-bass tempo.
There's a monologue about Adam & Eve on the intro of Twins with synths shimmering regally, lending it a slight Purple Rain-like energy at the outset, but this remains a collage of strange sound like Vangelis providing the soundtrack to an aquarium, which is apt because the next track is called Octopus which is guitar driven track that starts to whistle with radio noise and lolloping slightly-industrial sounding percussion; before being interrupted by a burst of studio audience applause. These two tracks really begin to illustrate Senley's concept for the record, which he began to put together after an accident left him on morphone and crutches, unable to walk and housebound.
Unfortunately the record does, on occasion, suffer from the same sleeplessness that prompted Senley to make it, with certain tracks drifting by a dreamy blur and tracks like Breakfast For Wine with its electric guitar licks and toy box sounds are reminiscent of a love scene from a creepy eighties movie. Elsewhere there's a crumbling Baxter Dury-like quality to the bittersweet piano driven Travelodge Love, a despondent and depressing monologue over a soft piano line. Unfortunately similar monologuing falls flat on tracks like Loss, which feels like the soundtrack to a grumpy and slightly pretentious short film.
Ultimately with a handful of truly interesting moments where tracks truly take flight the album peters out towards the end, repeating tricks heard on earlier tracks with a diminished impact, climaxing with the dreary electronica of Drink the Miracle Water which flits between 80s synth score and Unkle, climaxing on a fairytale-like piece of dialogue that ties into the record's themes of evangelical religion and late-nite tv advertising.
Senley is a talented musician, as he showed on his other record this year, but a bit of careful pruning and an evolution of ideas will serve him well on future releases. This is a front-loaded record, that manages to capture a certain ambience that is ultimately a little wearying on the senses.