# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Balky Mule - The Length of the Rail

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 6 / 4 / 2009

Balky Mule - The Length of the Rail
Label: Fat Cat Records
Format: CD


Endearing merging of lo-fi sounds and electronica on debut album from Balky Mule, the project of Bristol-raised, but now Australian-based musician, Sam Jones

The Balky Mule, or Sam Jones as he's known to his family, has been recording for years in and around Bristol with various luminaries of that city's post-rock scene, having played in such seminal bands as Movietone and Flying Saucer Attack and added his bass and marimba playing to Minotaur Shock, among others. This is his first album release proper, although he made several self-released recordings before moving to Australia in 2006. The press materials that accompanied 'The Length of the Rail' place the Balky Mule in the “tradition of British outsiders”, namechecking Pram, Talk Talk, Syd Barrett and Robert Wyatt. At first listen the latter of those is the most obvious – Jones's voice resembles Wyatt's a little and his delivery owes a lot to the former Soft Machine man. It's not a polished record – or rather, it's not polished in a conventional sense of having a smooth production and sound. Instead, it's deliberately ramshackle, making use of Jones library of sound snippets and his collection of old keyboards, synthesisers and bits of electronics headed for trash-heaps. Some of the sounds apparently came from a Bentley Carousel, a large organ that was left in a shared house he'd moved into. Opener 'Dust Bath Birds' is a good introduction, being quite conventional in terms of timing and melody. It's light and Jones's delivery is tentative but endearing. He's no great singer, but that only adds to the charm, as do the unexpectedly loud sounds that barge in halfway through the song. 'Before Too Long' is less conventional, with a tick-tock drum line and atonal vocals that give way to another enjoyable melody. Much of the album is rambling and put-together, but in such a way that it glides endearingly over the ears and lends itself easily to further listening. There are bits when the urge to experiment overtakes the melody, such as on 'Paper Crane', but there are also beautiful 'conventional' songs such as 'Wireless' and 'Range'. Balky Mule walks an interesting line between lo-fi sounds and electronic music with tracks that veer towards each and tracks, such as the titular one, that owe something to both. The closing track 'Tell Me Something Sweet' is a great ending, almost a lullaby in its gentle, understated prettiness. Balky Mule's album is well-made and lacking in artifice, a perfect evocation of what the abased 'indie' songwriting tradition should mean. 'The Length of the Rail' is a great listen, and one that will delight and intrigue in equal measure those who enjoy their 'folktronica' and many more besides.

Track Listing:-
1 Dust Bird Baths
2 Before Too Long
3 Jisaboke
4 A Moth...
5 Blinking
6 Wireless
7 Chalk
8 The Length of the Rail
9 Range
10 Illuminated Numbers
11 Paper Crane
12 Instead
13 We Sometimes Write
14 Glass Boat
15 Tell Me Something Sweet

Label Links:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

digital downloads

most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors