Paddy Steer’s Misleading Visuals

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After casually, probably incorrectly, summoning him as a reference point yesterday and with it being St. Paddy’s day and so on, well, it seemed high time to celebrate the splendid new record from Paddy Steer. So here it is then, ‘Bifurcation Arrows, Misleading Visuals‘ three years on from the last one it pretty much fired the starting gun on 2016 but if I’m honest it’s taken ’til now to give it a fair hearing. Myth and fantasy are strong in Paddy’s world, he appears like a shaman from another planet, stranded in Manchester. It’s easy to picture him working tirelessly these past three years in his attic studio meticulously piecing together sounds the way Joseph Cornell did the objects in his boxes. A shut in’s dream vision of the universe. That’s one of Cornell’s pieces at the top there and of the many musical reference points and comparisons you might make for Paddy, Cornell seems a better fit. Both pull off the transmutation of slightly shabby materials into poetry and unlikely beauty through skill and imagination. If you’ve seen him live you’ll know what I mean about the space shaman thing, a one man band channeling an orchestra through a collapsing set of equipment. This is a slightly different box of cut out paper parrots. Obviously when recording he can do one thing at a time and that frantic madness of the moment dissipates. This is to the good though, the music is more considered, gentler in pace and wonderfully played on a slightly mystifying range of acoustic, hand made, and beat up electronic, instruments. If you know his last record ‘The Fortified Herd’ this is more of the same kind of thing but better, he’s definitely moved on a step or two in what he can do with this way of working. There’s a couple of outbreaks of vocals, notably the title track, but it’s a mostly instrumental affair and completely overstuffed with gorgeous textures and melodic ideas. The lovely, dreamy ‘Biomass Noon’ features gentle steel guitar and conjures the 50’s exotica albums of Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman in the best way, the creation of mood and that exploratory approach to sound and new recording techniques they had. That, filtered through the home made keyboard tinkering of the various Italians earlier in the week. It’s really great. Have a listen, or two or three, there’s a lot to soak up. As an extra treat here’s one of my surprisingly extensive collection of rubbish photos of him performing…

 

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