Clockwork Orchestra — A Fish for a Heart
((Not on label) Soft Bodies Records, 2014, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2014-12-26Right off the bat, the name Clockwork Orchestra makes me think of the phrase a clockwork orange, something ordinary in appearance but robotic in action. I’m not sure if this really applies here, but A Fish for a Heart, the second release for Paul Mangan aka Clockwork Orchestra, is an incredibly bizarre collection of twelve quirky songs. The opening song, “Generator Girls,” takes you back to the 80s and the Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth with its drums, cheesy organ, electronics, and guttural vocals. The music is edgy and mechanical with some intelligent yet off the wall lyrics: “On a bed of nails, cautionary tales are breaking my train of thought.” This album is a complete change of pace from anything being released today. A Fish for a Heart is an infectiously listenable album despite Paul’s bedroom/home studio approach. Each song stands on its own, exhibiting various influences, be it the steam punk/cabaret style of “Puddle Fishing” or the Human League’s “Dance Hall Days” on “Percy.” The childlike simplicity of “Squeak’s Intervention” also evokes comparison to Grandpa Egg on this side of the pond. Other points of reference would be Morgan Fisher’s Hybrid Kids and the French band Ptôse. A thoroughly enjoyable mixed bag of engrossing and at times utterly deranged songs. A Fish for a Heart is a welcome release likely to beguile those of us with a penchant for adventurous music.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.