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Stuart Moxham - Profile

  by Tommy Gunnarsson

published: 16 / 7 / 2020

Stuart Moxham - Profile


Tommy Gunnarson examines two new albums by former Young Marble Giants mastermind Stuart Moxham, the first of which 'Interior Windows' is a compilation of unreleased recordings by his project the Gist, and the second 'The Devil Laughs' on which he has teamed up with Louis Philippe once again.

Three years ago, I reviewed the first Gist compilation, ‘Holding Patterns’, for Pennyblackmusic, and I wasn’t very impressed by it, even though I’m a really big fan of Stuart Moxham’s music, especially with the Young Marble Giants, but also the earlier Gist recordings and some of his later solo stuff as well. And one of the questions I asked in the review was why they didn’t decide to include the first Gist single (‘Yanks’ b/w ‘This Is Love’), which came out on Rough Trade shortly after the demise of Young Marble Giants in 1980. Well, the answer is here now - they apparently held them off for this release! ‘Interior Windows’ is more or less a follow-up to ‘Holding Patterns’, as it contains sixteen more archival recordings, including both unreleased songs and alternate versions to songs released on the album or on singles. The aforementioned ‘Yanks’ kicks off the album, and, while it’s a really good song, the b-side ‘This Is Love’ is even better - actually one of the best songs Moxham has ever written, I would say. And that it was recorded in the same sessions as the final Young Marble Giants single...well, you can hear that, quite clearly. Featured on the recordings are also Stuart’s brother Phil, who played bass in Young Marble Giants, and who would go on to be an on-and-off member of the Gist. Another gem on this album is the demo version of ‘Public Girl’, which was on the band’s only studio album so far, ‘Embrace The Herd’ (1982). The demo version sounds like something off a Young Marble Giants record, which is probably because of Stuart’s guitar playing and the homebuilt drum machine they used that sounds a bit like bouncing tennis balls, and which was featured on Young Marble Giants’ iconic ‘Colossal Youth’ album. It’s no wild guess that songs like ‘The Landmark’ were recorded in close connection to the Young Marble Giants split either. As was the case with the previous collection of unreleased Gist songs, there are a bunch of fillers here as well, especially the very short (and unfinished?) instrumental pieces, like ‘Piano Piece’ and ‘C Me’, The only instrumental track here worth mentioning is probably ‘Greener Grass’, which was the Gist’s contribution to the influential ‘C81’ cassette compilation that the 'New Musical Express' put out in 1981 (which would be followed by the equally influential ‘C86’ five years later). Tiny Global Productions, Stuart's label, says that ‘Holding Patterns’ gained the band a lot of new fans, but I really can’t see how anyone would discover the Gist through these albums. Sure, there are some great songs here, but at the same time it’s not always an easy listen. After the release of that sole Gist album in 1982, Stuart disappeared from the music business. At least that’s what most people thought. He kept writing songs though, and released his first solo album in the early 90s. In 2007, he teamed up with arranger, producer and guitarist Louis Philippe (best known for his work on the iconic label él and their artists, like Anthony Adverse and the King Of Luxembourg) to record the album ‘The Huddle House’. Now the time has come for their second collaboration, this time in the shape of the album ‘The Devil Laughs’, which was “recorded a few years ago”, according to the label. If your only acquaintance with Stuart is through his work with Young Marble Giants, you will probably be a bit surprised to hear this album, but if you are familiar with his output in the 90s and 00s, this will more likely be right up your alley, with its breezy songs and production, quite reminiscent of Brian Wilson’s 60's productions. There are some lovely harmonies and backing vocals to make the sound even more vivid, like in the song ‘Sky Over Water’, which actually makes me think of Norwegian acoustic duo Kings Of Convenience, who released some critically acclaimed albums in the early 00s (check them out if you haven’t!). Though the songs here do tend to sound a bit like each other in the end, it’s still an enjoyable album, and if you’re a fan of Louis Philippe’s work you won’t be disappointed!

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Stuart Moxham - Profile

Stuart Moxham - Profile

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Interview (2010)
Stuart Moxham - Interview
Young Marble Giants' main songwriter and guitarist Stuart Moxham speaks to Tommy Gunnarsson about his solo career and recently released compilation album, 'Personal Best'


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Personal Best (2010)
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