Mental Home Recordings – Philip Parfitt (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I don’t know if it was a conscious move on Philip Parfitt’s part or not but the cover of this, his second solo album, seems to be a metaphor for the music found within. Take a quick glance and you easily register the main component and themes, look again and you see small and wonderfully clever details which you missed when you first laid eyes upon it. And so to every time that you cast your eyes across its beguiling motifs, over and over again.

And so it is with the music which makes up the brilliantly titled Mental Home Recordings. On the surface it is largely a collection of gently lilting, folk-infused alternative sounds, conjure as much out of moods and atmospheres as it is from sonic moves and musical grooves. But, like the picture I have just described, each subsequent play reveals more and more hidden depths as you get tuned to its subtle ways.

Somebody Called Me In might seem to be merely the sound of a “guy with a guitar” and those who might describe it in such less than gracious ways wouldn’t be wholly wrong. But that would give away the fact that they had totally missed the chiming sonics in the background, the shimmering undercurrents, the haunting, whispered lyrical lines bubbling up from below the waterline, the slow waltz of sound dancing with sentiment across a deserted dance floor.

And when more weight is called for, such as on recent single All Fucked Up, it is added through hazy textures and resonant guitars rather than anything so pedestrian and crass as volume control. Are We Really Still The Same? seems to build unavoidable dynamic and drama out of very little, sparing chords and the occasional crashing sonic jolt, My Love is whispered yet euphoric and I Saw There Beside Me mixes classical grace with the echo of Lou Reed’s urban musings.

Even having been so long in the game, steering bands such as The Perfect Disaster and Oediupussy to critical recognition and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jason Pierce and Terry Bickers on various projects, Mental Home Recordings is proof, if proof were needed, that Philip Parfitt is still capable of suggesting new sonic benchmarks for himself and then out-reaching even those dizzying heights.

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