Review: Directorsound - I Hunt Alone (2013)


artist: Dir­ect­or­sound
release: I Hunt Alone
format: CD
year of release: 2013
label: Second Lan­guage
dur­a­tion: 44:17

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Nich­olas Palmer is no stranger to our site, as he deserves a place of hon­our for being one half of the duo The A. Lords, together with Michael Tan­ner, whose self-titled 2011 LP remains a favour­ite. Palmer’s solo work as Dir­ect­or­sound hasn’t fea­tured here before, how­ever, some­thing which I hereby wish to rec­tify. Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the mag­ni­fi­cent The Cloisters album (Tan­ner again), sub­scriber label Second Lan­guage has just released I Hunt Alone, the latest Dir­ect­or­sound work.

Des­pite being Palmer’s solo pro­ject, the album sounds like a band effort, a rich fusion of pas­toral folk, middle-eastern music, latin, jazz, and who knows what else. There are a few guest artists on some of the tracks adding cello or flute, but most of the music is care­fully arranged and per­formed by Palmer him­self. His mas­tery of the influ­ences is com­plete, and in doing so he cre­ates a musical world that is quite unique.

It is more act­ive and upbeat than I had expec­ted based on his involve­ment in The A. Lords. The title track is the most famil­iar one, a calm piece for solo acous­tic gui­tar, clas­sical and slightly medi­ter­ranean in its atmo­sphere. It had fea­tured last year on the label’s End of a Sea­son com­pil­a­tion, and I based my expect­a­tions for the album on this gor­geous com­pos­i­tion. It’s also a mis­lead­ing one, how­ever. Start­ing with the superb and aptly titled “Pan in Para­dise”, the release proves to be a whirl­ing affair, most tracks con­tain­ing steady dance rhythms, per­cus­sion, accor­di­ons, cla­ri­nets, etc. There’s a lovely tango in “Sun Dazed and Dan­cing”, the ori­ginal pas­sion mixed with ever so subtle influ­ences from Palmer’s Brit­ish freefolk back­ground.

The long “Noc­turne for Grace” is a dra­matic force in the centre of the album, with rip­pling piano, har­monium, and per­cus­sion swells, but also moments of still­ness that bal­ance it out. A sweep­ing mel­an­cholic track that exem­pli­fies the emo­tion you can put into instru­mental music. It con­trasts with the forget-all-your-cares dance of “La Strega e lo Stolto”, and the return to pas­toral wist­ful­ness of “Turnal Cu Ceas”, a mag­ni­fi­cent clos­ing track.

I Hunt Alone is a sin­gu­lar album that some­how man­ages to cap­ture of vari­ous folk musics the emo­tion and energy of live dance and per­form­ance on the one hand, and the calm con­tem­plat­ive sol­it­ary moments on the other, and all that in a stu­dio set­ting. I’m glad to have found another musi­cian and com­poser that has found that sweet spot between dif­fer­ent cul­tural influ­ences, a warm feel­ing of the past, and an innov­at­ive per­spect­ive.

Second Lan­guage sub­scribers will already have got­ten this album and its subscriber-only bonus EP, so they don’t have to be con­vinced. To any­one else: I recom­mend this with all my love.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Pan In Para­dise (6:51)
2. Ser­pent In The Jaws Of Octo­ber (6:58)
3. I Hunt Alone (4:25)
4. Sun Dazed And Dan­cing (4:24)
5. Dag­gers (1:16)
6. Noc­turne For Grace (9:50)
7. La Strega E Lo Stolto (5:39)
8. Turnal Cu Ceas (4:50)

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