Sep 2011 26

Martin Phillip - RecumbentMartin Philip
Category: Electro-pop
Album: Recumbent
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Like his electronic forefathers, Martin Philip has discovered the key to romantic electro-pop… moody vocals and layers of beautiful sound.

 

Martin Philip is obviously heavily influenced by electronic greats like Pet Shop Boys, The Eurythmics, Yaz, and Thomas Dolby. It shows in his vocals, music composition, and even retro mod fashion choices. To get the complete image of Mr. Philip, as you listen to his latest album, Recumbent, take a stroll through the photos of him posing with intriguing instrument-inspired props while wearing English suits and bowler hats. And make sure the volume is turned high enough to allow your ear to pick up all the nuances of his voice or you’ll miss something essential.

Musically, Martin Philip displays a calm confidence born from years of experience. Masterfully blended layers of often seductive melodies and sensual rhythms never come off as disorganized or overpowering. Although Swedish by birth, he’s British in voice. His vocals are subtle and understated… much like a shy Neil Tennant. He doesn’t change pitch much, choosing to stay in the deeper end of his range, but there are tiny little fluctuations that bring a touch of personality to every note. The only negative is that because there isn’t much vocal variation, casual listening to this album can cause the listener to miss the little distinctions that make it so good.

Many of the songs on Recumbent are perfectly suited for a romantic night at home. “Juxtapose” and “Carry No Cargo,” in particular, capture the spirit of the sadly sensual ‘80s era high school slow dance ballad. Melancholy but hopeful, they beg couples to lean against each other, turning slowly in a small circle as a disco ball covers the floor in reflected lights like a million stars. “Life’s a Party” has more of a gloomy pop/early Depeche Mode feel, while “Manacles and Shackles,” which could have been inspired by DM’s “Master and Servant” kind of missed the point with very obvious lyrics that are almost humorous in their sing-song type delivery.

Martin Philip is a nearly flawless composer. His music is calm, romantic, multi-dimensional, and never repetitive. He also has a very nice voice, though limited. If the volume is loud enough and the listener is paying attention, there are many lovely little vocal dance steps that add personality and charm to every song. However, if the album were to just play as background noise, Philip’s voice could seem dull. The answer: listen loudly and carefully. It’s worth it.

Track list:

  1. Recumbent but Never Content
  2. Life’s a Party
  3. Carry No Cargo
  4. Finders Keepers
  5. Dimly Lit Stage
  6. My Dear Illicit
  7. Threepenny Fortune
  8. The Opposite Girl
  9. Juxtapose
  10. Manacles and Shackles

Martin Philip Website http://martinphilip.com
Martin Philip MySpace http://www.myspace.com/martinphilipcom

2010-10-11

Charity VanDeberg (CharityV)

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