published: 23 /
Glorious orchestral avant garde and tongue-in-cheek English pop on debut solo album from North Sea Orchestra frontman Craig Fortnam
Initially I got the wrong end of the stick as I assumed I was listening to the new alias of DW Robertson and the artist formerly known as Ergo Phizmiz, Fortnam, is, however, a trained music lecturer who also heads the North Sea Orchestra. and, debuts on Onomatopoeia with a swirling minimal vaudeville album.
'Ark' begins in a most gentle manner with a refreshing lounge breeze on the title track. As the tickling magic continues in radio play style, Craig Fortnam's style soon embarks unmistakably into something quintessentially English. Out at sea with full blown orchestration on the opening title track, it builds into a bewildering whizz-bang of a tune which sets the tone for one of the most disorientating rides through tongue-in-cheek kitsch. I quote from his 'German Queen' "I'm a pollinator looking for a flower. And I'm living in a mono-culture.' - words very well chosen. Fortnam's like the butterfly we agonisingly fail in nature and in our society with wings touching down on what we ought to treasure but from whose windpipes we've lost ear of.
Pinpointing the fun reaches a new highlight on side 2 with 'Crack Haven' - a lounge vaudeville instrumental that with the help from a string triptet or quartet reaches great heights. On 'Heaven Knows' the minimalism of guitar play reminiscent of Leo Kottke or John Fahey gives 'Ark' another great twist.
All the album's humble glory sums up on 'A Speck I Am'. Count yourself lucky to have boarded on 'Ark'. An album of rare species.
The Gargoyle's Seaweed Hair
Managed Decline On The Orford Ness
A Speck I Am
Now Floods The Tempest High
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