Tuesday, August 4, 2009

exile in excelsis

Few artists are able to sustain a career that runs the gamut of genres from electronica to torch songs, dance music, piano ballads, Russians romance songs and French chansons. Surely, Marc Almond is one of those rare breed of artists that's equally at home wrapping his velvety, glitter flecked voice around a club oriented throwdown, as well as a delicately produced, organic torch song accompanied by a solo piano.

He's also one of the most gifted interpreters of song in the rarefied space occupied by such luminaries as Charles Aznavour, Dusty Springfield, Serge Gainsbourg and David Bowie. He's acutely adept at finding the personal tragedy and the high glamor in every song he expertly chooses to sing. In one moment he's enraptured and insistent, then delicate and intimate the next. Simultaneously dramatic and sleazy, tender and aloof, desperate and hopeful.

On September 14, Marc Almond will return with "Orpheus In Exile", his 17th album outside his collaborative efforts with Dave Ball as one half of Soft Cell. It's also his first album since his triumphant return with the magnificent and glorious "Stardom Road" in 2007.

"Orpheus In Exile" continues Marc's love affair with Russia by delivering an album that features songs made popular by Vadim Kozin, the Soviet era's very own Frank Sinatra. And who better to document his rise to acclaim and subsequent banishment to the frozen tundra of Russia's Gulag prisons? Listening to a cross section of Marc's work will quickly reveal his intrigue of the fallen idol along with their trials and tribulations.

Prior to the release of "Orpheus In Exile", you can visit Marc Almond's official website for previews of four songs from the forthcoming album. They include the Baltic, sidewalk cafe chanson of "Boulevards Of Magadan", the yearning melancholy of "Pearly Night", the provocative, high-stepping "Brave Boy" and the delicious, delirious tango of "Autumn". Additionally, you can also view short films of three more songs, "Friendship", "I Love So Much To Look Into Your Eyes" and "Beggar", the first two of which are accompanied by grainy, silent film inspired videos which feature flashes of gorgeous, Russian, architectural opulence.

It's abundantly clear that as an artist, Marc identifies with the tradition and passion of romantic songs not only in his choice of repertoire and arrangements which are consistent with some of his best work but also in his robust, lustful vocal delivery. As usual, his voice is perfectly suited to his penchant for storytelling and painting distinct, aural settings around the subject matter. All of this from short audio clips! Imagine the impact of hearing the fully produced work!

I've always admired Marc Almond for his uncompromising approach to his work, always taking the listener on a journey of discovery. I can't wait until I'm able to lose myself in another one of Marc's magnificent, cinematic projects. Expect a review shortly after the release of the album.


  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  2. @lagot - Thank you very much for the kind words. Welcome! Hope I can keep things interesting.

  3. Your blog IS excellent, and I have been very excited to see how similar many of our tastes are. Marc is (along with David Sylvian) one of my three favorite "pop" artists of all time. I am so excited about this record, and supposedly he has three(!) in or nearly in the can! Even after a life-threatening accident, he remains unstoppable. He makes somebody like Billy Joel seem positively lazy in comparison!

  4. Vinny, love your blog, and it gladdens my heart to see some of my own favorites pop up here from time to time: from Marc Almond to David Sylvian & Japan, David Bowie, Frazier Chorus, Kylie, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, lordy, the list goes on. Outstanding, man!

  5. @shayes303 - Thanks! Glad you're digging the blog. I really appreciate the kind words.