What are you gonna do after you’ve spent half a lifetime writing and producing your 17 song, one hour and 14 minutes grandiose debut album; a record tackling everything from loss, love, hope, anger, everything in-between and more? Well, it’s obvious isn’t it? You get back on it. You start all over again, which is exactly what they have done with this anthology series of short stories.
After the success of the brilliant Working To Design, DUNKIE and friends (a dozen or so of them, some old, some new) are back and firing on all cylinders. On the face of it, much is still the same, the layered, textured songs are there, weaving into your subconsciousness, making you think and ponder the fragility of it all, but there are also enough changes to keep things fresh, not that stagnation was ever faintly a possibility.
One of the notable changes is the now 50/50 credit split between the principle Working To Design songwriter Anthony Price and producer Wayne Bassett of Robot Recordings. Price has often spoke of the importance of his friend on the aforementioned album, so the credit share in the style of Lennon/McCartney was a natural progression.
The EP starts with “The Vanishing”, its haunting piano intro matched with the almost threatening opening line of “I could disappear and leave without a trace”. Price’s vocals are at its most affecting in this opening track and seemingly on the brink of breaking as he sings “pulling away from gravity, pushing away from humanity”. Despite a gentle start, this track grows and soars, the result being an epic beginning.
Track two “Shadows On The Sun”, the second and last tune on this EP with Price on lead vocals before handing the duties over to friends. It is more upbeat than the opener, its pulsating drumbeat and driving bassline the heartbeat of a song that, as ever with DUNKIE songs, has broad and innumerable influences, each ear sure to pick up a different point of reference from seven decades of pop music.
“Choke” is the first tune without Price on lead vocals as Mali Davies takes charge. Fans of their previous work will be familiar with this song, as they teased us with a two-minute snippet on Working To Design. Here they bring it fully to life, giving it the full DUNKIE treatment. Musically it is an entirely different direction to the opening tracks. The beat is trip-hoppy and the flute from Terry Payne gives it a mystical, whimsical edge. Shouldn’t work. Does work. Fantastic!
“Deep Dark Heart” features Mark Purnell & Sarah Birch on vocals, the contrasting tones make for a perfect, warm blend; the strings luscious. “The Vanishing Shadow”, starring Lauren Coates on vocals brings proceedings to a close; evocative, pensive and with a sense of longing it is the perfect conclusion. The arrangements, as with all of the songs on this EP are without fault.
“The Vanishing And Other Stories” is a more than adequate follow up to Working To Design. By their own admission, Price and Bassett have thrown everything into the recording and production of this EP, with the view to creating as lavish a record as possible. Due to the fact that they are primarily a studio project at the moment, they are free from the pressures of having to re-create the sound as a live act. Of course, the idea of these songs being brought to life is an exciting prospect, but right now it isn’t a priority.
It is difficult to sum up this EP in just a few sentences, such is the sheer depth across the five tracks, in fact when the music is this good, it makes it so bloody difficult to review. The best advice I can offer is to just listen to the music and find out for yourself. Take it in, allow the songs to in-bed themselves into your brain and become part of you. Listen to them in the quiet of the night, in the spring sun and when you’re on your aimless daily walk. Listen to them with your friends, family or in solitude. Find your fit, the rewards are wholesome.
“The Vanishing and Other Stories” was released on March 19 with the newly formed Dirty Carrot Records. The EP is available to purchase exclusively via Bandcamp (link below) at a bargain cost of 50p. Included in the price is the complete artwork by incredible Welsh fugurative artist Michael Gustavius Payne. Failing that, try Spotify!
Gavin Facey – 23/03/2021