Various Production & Gerry Mitchell – The Invisible Lodger – LP
“The Invisible Lodger” is a unique collaboration with South London wordsmith Gerry Mitchell. From the folk-dubstep success of their first LP comes a shockingly new experiment of spoken word electronica. The result is somewhat like a less-rigid Massive Attack fronted by a Mark E Smith gifted at imagery and not just word-play. Dreamy/nightmare machine-waltzes paint sonic scenes for a narrator deconstructing the city walls around him, with collective delusions disturbing his consciousness. Scattered drones, electronic-dub, found samples and waltz-folk music envelope and elaborate the internal dialogue, a modern “Notes from Underground”, of a Scottish Dostoevsky. Various Production are the mysterious duo carving out new genres with every release and remix. After surviving a bidding war (Warp, Leaf, Domino..) they released their debut folk-dubstep LP “The World Is Gone” on XL/Beggars (“this tops them all. 8.5/10” PITCHFORK). The album’s fresh scattered beats with dark soundscapes were balanced out by forgiving female vocals. An astoundingly productive team, they have recently remixed Ian Brown, Thom Yorke, Cat Power & Dirty Three amongst others. With elements of 1984 paranoia, the collaborators weave a massive range of sounds modern and old (middle eastern, folk bar song (“Cut me!”) with Gerry’s urban isolation and unflinching view of himself and his surroundings; an industrial, hypnotic, spoken-word electronica. His images are unique and from a heightened sensitivity to his powerlessness; he is invisible, out of the scheme, standing still watching the consumer legions, urban fashionistas and faux-mo sapiens of the capital chase the neon colours and recycled “creations” projected on cold metal and concrete. The album’s bleakness is also a pure clean wind, equally soothing and unnerving. Gerry’s persona isn’t a cheery one, and not for the faint-hearted. When delicate, like on All Fall Down (exploring the “granite list” of “the glorious war dead”), it is dream-like. Most release of his tension is in the meticulous and shimmering production by Various; a squinting sunset futurism that opens up his pensive nihilism, stretching it into waltzing and pulsing thought-scapes, “the future leaking into the present”. He wanders a dirty south London restlessly, confused by pervasive automatism (“perhaps they have no need of conversation?”), and the machines, mentioned and heard often (almost breathing) on the album, controlling the environment, isolating and dehumanising. Emotionless violence bewilders him (“someone dead in the street, and no god’s wrath”), and materialism and nihilism empty the soul, leaving him aching like the dog at the end of the street. You want hope? It pops its head a few times, the nurturing, stand-out ‘Pure Sun’ and the moon that saunters through my dreams, but it is never far beneath the surface that these are amoral forces. The Invisible Lodger is an original and uncompromising modern soundtrack to Mr Mitchell’s talented verse and strong imagery.