MR AVERELL – Gridlock

Equally Tuned 2013

MR AVERELL - Gridlock

MR AVERELL – Gridlock

Are we lemmings? Dutch artist paints an idiosyncratic picture of an urban state of mind in the company of kindred wandering spirits.

It’s not a Jackyll-Hyde situation when RenĂ© van Commenee morphs into Mr Averell and shapes his avant-garde ideas on musical, rather than multimedia, front, it’s just another aspect of his outlook. Sharing this vision, and inviting the Dutchman for the ride, are the members of early VDGG line-ups who return the melodious favor on Mr Averell’s second solo outing and add details to the canvas he colors with a battery of various instruments and voices. It’s that electrifying – and that angularly nervy, as befits the depiction of a modern city dweller’s psyche.

The narrative gets all homey hoarse in the Waitsian piano ballad “Break The Mirror” that’s rendered stately by David Jackson’s tenor and Judge Smith’s euphonium complementing Commenee’s Hammond, but it turns into a slightly annoying dance when Lene Lovich sends her artificial accent grooving over John Ellis’ tasty rifferama in “Kiss the Girl!” where parping sax mixes with funky strum and wah-wah wails. Yet if such an approach possesses a certain pull as does the psych rock vibe of “The Fear Of Dreaming,” the concept crumbles under its own weight in the title track’s disco skronk or the theatricality of “Boxes,” heightened with Hugh Banton’s organ. And while Mike Garson’s elegiac piano that elevates the melancholy of the horns-pronged “Sightseeings” and “Deliberately” beyond the pale, the picture’s bleak anyway, despite the country fair-like merriment of “Rideehoo!!”.

Such bleakness may benefit from visuals but these could curtail the listener’s imagination, and in terms of a spiritual flight “Gridlock” comes undone graciously.

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November 3, 2013

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