Plinth – Albatross
Posted On: March 23, 2010
The last week has been one of those unusual weeks of transition. Winter is finally tailing off, and slowly but surely we are being teased with brighter days and warmer temperatures.
We are however subjected to subtle reminders of what is being left behind as a cold breeze or a sudden shower interferes with our shift in focus. Therefore, it’s appropriate in many ways that I had the opportunity to review this interesting recording from UK composer Michael Tanner, or Plinth, during this period.
“Albatross” is a collection of 5 interpretations of the Fleetwood Mac track of the same name and like the changes we are witnessing in the world around us, it provides the listener with a variation of audible delights suitable for the adapting seasons.
Despite being a bird, in literary circles the Albatross itself is largely considered to hold metaphorical value. Sometimes defined as a wearisome burden, this is in an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
The original composition from Fleetwood Mac was in many ways an early example of ambient guitar music focusing on just two chord patterns, balanced lightly with cymbals. It’s a dreamy composition and Plinth certainly pays homage in this respect with each track successfully conveying a relaxed, gentle approach to music.
To expand upon the original’s approach Tanner calls upon the services of Aine O’Dwyer (harp), Richard Moult (piano) and Nick Palmer (piano on one track). While these accompaniments are subtle, they add both depth and richness to the recordings they feature on.
The tracks themselves vary in scope ranging from the relatively short “Albatross Four” (clocking in at just under four minutes) to the expansive and drawn out “Albatross Three” (which comes in at over twenty five minutes). Despite these differences in duration, the tracks stay true to their source each conveying images of slow tides, starry nights, gentle breezes and all to different degrees.
Over the last week I have enjoyed these sounds whilst waking up earlier in the morning thanks to the brighter dawn. I’ve had the luxury of sitting on a park bench absorbing these sounds through my headphones on a lunch break, accompanied by the ambience of a bustling city as it awakes from it hibernation. I’ve also battled rainstorms and bitter winds as the change in climate reluctantly sheds its skin. Yet despite this, and in spite of any metaphorical connotations the Albatross holds, Plinth has done away with any encumbrance and delivered a harmonious collection of sounds appropriate for all conditions.
- Review by Josh Atkin for Fluid Radio
Track List:Click on link below to hear these track samples
Albatross One (excerpt)
Albatross Two (excerpt)
Albatross Three (excerpt)
Albatross Four (full track)
Albatross Five (excerpt)
The influence of Alcohol and cold weather led me to believe I could cover the entirety of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ by myself with an out-of-tune Telecaster and a loop pedal. I could not. In the art of failing miserably, something new was created. Also featuring Aine O’Dwyer on harp, Richard Moult and Nick Palmer (Directorsound) on piano alongside various bowed strings and harmonium. Guitars recorded in Hastings on New Years Eve 2007 and New years Day 2008 (except track 5 which was recorded some time earlier at home) - Michael Tanner
About the artist:
Michael Tanner is a composer, writer and musician from the south of England occasionally recording under the pseudonym ‘Plinth’. Tanner first came to attention on the the Geographic Records compilation, “You Don’t Need Darkness To Do What You Think Is Right” in 2001. Other releases include “Wintersongs” and “Plays Victorian Machine Music” on Dorset Paeans and Rusted Rail, respectively – Both are now sold out. After a brief hiatus, Plinth returned with a split CD with Piano Magic’s Glen Johnson. ‘The Rest I leave to the Poor,’ by Plinth/Textile Ranch was released on Make Mine Music in late 2008.
Tanner is a member of the bands Directorsound, Tyneham House, United Bible Studies, The Rural Tradition and plays live with English folk-musician Sharron Kraus. Engineering and Recording credits include Sharron Kraus’ acclaimed The Foxes Wedding, forthcoming albums by Agitated Radio Pilot and United Bible Studies, whilst he’s also contributed songs and remixes to Andria Degen’s Pantaleimon. Other musical outlets include acoustic duo, The A Lords with Nicholas Palmer and Vangelis-styled synth project Cat Lady with Matthew Shaw.
Albatross is released through Dead Slack String Records and can be purchased from the label’s web site here