With the wracked final days of Soft Cell behind him, Marc Almond gleefully threw himself into a full-time solo career with a splash; while a chunk of bile still clearly remains – the portentous "Ugly Head" sounds as much personal therapy as it does grinding semi-big-band blues – a much more musically upbeat angle dominates, especially on the lush, winning single "The Boy Who Came Back."
Marc Almond's newest label jump resulted in what looked like an ideal creation on paper – two songs produced and co-written by the Grid, the techno duo featuring Almond's Soft Cell collaborator Dave Ball, three more songs worked on with sole surviving Willing Sinner/La Magia member, keyboardist/orchestrator Billy McGee, and a mini-song cycle, "The Tenement Symphony" itself, produced by uber-studio wizard Trevor Horn. But did it work?
Another year and another label for Marc Almond, along with a newly stripped-down band, La Magia, with Willing Sinner vets Annie Hogan, Billy McGee, and Steve Humphreys on drums. Even more so than Stories of Johnny, this is Almond with an eye and ear on making a commercial record while still being himself, and the result is much better than expected.
Leave it to Marc Almond to bridge the gap between covers and concept albums. Shadows and Reflections is both. Its track list reveals iconic '60s-era pop songs of astonishing variety. There's Burt Bacharach's "Blue on Blue" and Johnny Mandel's "The Shadow of Your Smile," as well as the Herd's "From the Underworld," a gorgeous, daring read of the Yardbirds' "Still I'm Sad," and Bobby Darin's "Not for Me," to mention a few. Almond and his chief collaborator, British composer, arranger, and saxophonist John Harle (who wrote the set's "Overture" and "Interlude," and co-wrote the closer "No One to Say Good Night To" with the singer), used a guiding aural aesthetic in opting for expansive panoramic sound; they sought to emulate "a very late 1960s Italian cinema soundtrack…."
We’ve got a real treat here for Marc Almond fans – the last of his very limited edition Against Nature collaboration with Jeremy Reed and Othon. Against Nature is said to be the seminally decadent novel of 19th Century fin de siècle Paris. It explores the central character of Des Esseintes who, as Jeremy Reed explains lived, “a life governed by deviated aesthetic obsessions and the desire to subvert…. nature through artificial pursuits. Endemically bored, wealthy, disillusioned, acutely refined, phobic and neurotic and singularly disgusted by humanity he withdraws from Paris as a middle-aged sensualist to live with servants as a recluse”.
Defying expectations and throwing anyone for a loop who guessed what Marc Almond might do after Stranger Things, Heart on Snow is his Russian album. That is to say that some of the songs are traditional Russian folk music, some are inspired by Almond's somewhat existentialist views of Russian life and love, and others merely mention Russian life but come across like traditional Almond songs. Instruments mostly take a backseat to Almond's voice, which is in peak form, but each song has a firm foundation of a combination of upright bass, piano, accordion, violin, percussion, moody keyboards, and guitars.
Limited deluxe two CD digipak edition including a bonus CD containing acoustic versions of seven of the album's tracks. 2010 release from the British Pop vocalist best known as one-half of Synth Pop duo Soft Cell. Almond's first studio album of original self-written material for 10 years. Variete is both a dramatic celebration in song of the thwarted glamour of the fag-end of the show business of yesteryear and a brave and revealing body of autobiographical songs.
John Harle's epic CV includes soundtracks, classical works and drama, all of which feed into the saxophonist's ambitious song cycle about "dark London". Its tales of the Limehouse Ripper, Spring Heeled Jack and the Highgate Vampire are centred a few centuries back, with words from William Blake and John Dee, though most of the lyrics are by Marc Almond, along with Tom Pickard and Iain Sinclair. There are splashes of cabaret and jazz, but the echoing, crepuscular atmosphere is dominated by Almond's impressive neo-operatic singing (some distance from electro-pop!), with a thumping, galloping finale that uses an extract from Blake's "prophetic book" Jerusalem. Dark but dashing.
Collecting two at-the-time incredibly out of print mid-'80 EPs, this disc's spine reads as being a full partnership between Almond and Foetus, a semi-regular collaborator for Almond's solo career during its first few years. However, only the first three songs represent that actual pairing, being the original Flesh Volcano tracks from 1986. It's essentially nothing more or less than Foetus at his most industrial and clattering with Almond at his most theatrically pained and howling – great if you want it, but not as earth-shattering as you might hope.