# 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

Arch Garrison - King of the Down

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 3 / 3 / 2010

Arch Garrison - King of the Down
Label: Double Six Records
Format: CD


Evocative debut album from Arch Garrison, the project of acoustic guitarist and North Sea Radio Orchestra leader Craig Fortnam

As the leader of the North Sea Radio Orchestra, Craig Fortnam has forged what appears to be a particularly English pastoral landscape where classical allusions and references to William Blake abound. Baroque, perhaps overblown, North Sea Radio Orchestra are a thing of rare beauty and accomplishment with an ever changing cast though anchored by Fortnam’s guitar playing and his wife’s, Sharron, marvellous, swirling, singing. With the new simpler guise of Arch Garrison, everything is pared down a notch. Fewer instruments, less plundering of Elizabethan poetry. The most noticeable change, however, is the sidelining of his wife and his decision to take centre stage with singing as well as playing. Nothing is seriously amiss in the Fortnam household, one presumes, as Sharron firmly demonstrates who wears the singing trousers on 'Roman Road'. One the first listen, Fortnam’s voice feels feeble and unable to cope with the rigours he sets for himself. On subsequent plays the value and integrity of his voice becomes clear. He may occasionally veer away from what he intended but the effect is both endearing and affecting. In combination with the inventive, complex acoustic guitar and the slightly wanting vocals, the albums reminds me of one of the best from last year; Graham Coxon’s 'Spinning Top.' Lines like “Take a walk from East Cheam to the cricket ground” are pure Blur of course and at times Fortnam sounds not unlike Damon Albarn’s more sombre moments. There are a few instrumentals, 'Thames Fluvius' and 'King of the Down' which retain much of the atmosphere of Olde Englande of Fortnum’s other endeavours. At times, along with the evocations, both literal and musical of a bucolic perfection there are darker illusions; 'Here’s to the End of the Road', refers to “I held you down as they cuffed you and took you downtown,” although your guess is as good as mine as the exact nature of what this purports. 'King of the Down' rolls along like so many sleepy English downs; you can smell the Cheddar, the ale and the linseed oil. But this is no sloppy ode to a halcyon times that never were, but rather a deceptively simple evocation of lost song forms and skills brought right into the Twenty First Century.

Track Listing:-
1 King of the Down
2 Here's to the End of the Road
3 The Days Don't Feel the Same
4 Stone on the Pound
5 Thames Fluvius
6 Roman Road
7 King of the City
8 The Reason Why
9 Peek-a-boo
10 The Vapour Trail
11 The Pouch

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