SUNKEN TREA­SURE

Awesome mu­sic from the ar­chives – The Blue Nile ’s ‘A Walk Across the Rooftops’

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - Donal Di­neen

Cities have their own sound and there’s a kind of mu­sic in all of them. It just takes the res­i­dent mu­si­cians to put their in­stru­ments to good use ex­tract­ing the magic and turn­ing it into tunes.

Early 1980s Glas­gow must have struck the ears of Paul Buchanan, PJ Moore and Robert Bell acutely. From the in­tri­cate ar­chi­tec­ture of their mu­sic you get the im­pres­sion they were keen ab­sorbers of their sur­round­ings. The sprawl­ing in­dus­trial sea­port was forcibly asleep at the time, si­lenced by un­em­ploy­ment and re­ces­sion. The colour had drained away and all hori­zons were grey.

Th­ese ex­per­i­ments in sound which yielded daz­zling light were con­ducted in splen­did iso­la­tion un­der Glas­gow’s skin and the cover of dark­ness. This sound formed in a vac­uum was of a very spe­cial kind.

They spent three years fine-tun­ing the songs and sculpt­ing the elec­tronic in­stru­men­ta­tion. What re­sulted was a mas­ter­piece.

It’s a deeply se­duc­tive map. The labyrinthine web of sounds is de­void of dead ends. Ev­ery­thing leads some­where.

This rich sonic ta­pes­try of shim­mer­ing mag­nif­i­cence is stud­ded with a ro­man­tic lyri­cism.The clar­ity of the sound and vi­sion is strik­ing. We stroll the rain-sod­den streets in their foot­steps. We squint and blink in the Glaswe­gian half-light.

That they should achieve this with their de­but offering is stag­ger­ing but it was no accident. Their con­quer­ing of the tech­nol­ogy al­lowed them to fash­ion a sig­na­ture sound with a deeply per­sonal touch.

A con­sis­tency of tex­ture and tone en­velopes the record. Its sparse beauty cap­tures the essence of some­thing in­eluctable. The quiver in Buchanan’s voice ebbs and flows. It’s equal parts light and shade. Joy and pain are laid bare.

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