An exquisite flight of nocturnal fantasy by a man who lives and breathes art to build his own edifice on respectable relics.
There’s no braggadocio in Alistair Murphy’s pseudonym: in real life he’s a Norfolk museum curator but, after many movies, it’s easy to imagine the action that takes place in such sanctified walls. This might well be the beast the artist refers to on his second album, for, while supporting Bob Mould and working with Judy Dyble, here the multi-instrumentalist crafts a world which is much grander. Inner world, that is, a focus of a 20-minute title tapestry building from the ear-caressing progressive rock moves to a classical piece, and when the cinematic strings of ELY SINFONIA, orchestrated by Phil Toms and conducted by NO-MAN’s Steve Bingham, swoop down on the guitar-and-piano glacier to be followed by the organ sway, the harmonic bliss of it all can make one swoon.
The glide of Murphy and Diana Hare’s vocal blend keeps the flow down to earth, and the serenade plea “The Warmth On My Pillow” passes by in the most intimate, dreamy, if uplifting, way to land romantically in “Courtiers”. Yet the drift turns seductively predatory, operetta-style, in “Snakes And Ladders” where the female voice dances on the gilded splinters of Pat Mastelotto’s drums adding fire to the dramatic orchestral backdrop before the six-string axe and folky drone cut it to the dance groove and change the game. It gets to chamber calm with the closing “First One Home” which swells and soars to the skies – there’s no “inside” now: The Curator’s booky shop is wide open and welcomes everyone to bet for an overseer spot too.