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Charlie Beresford - Dark Transport Rating: 3 out of 5 Music that is deeply personal but simultaneously oblique."Dark Transport" is a sustained piece of mood building, lovingly crafted and undoubtedly a success on its own terms

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Charlie Beresford was raised in Coventry but now lives in the Welsh Marches. This latest release on his own Brightfield label sees him collaborating with Tim Harries, an experienced musician who has worked as a bassist in both the folk and jazz spheres collaborating with artists as diverse as Bill Bruford, Richard Fairhurst and Steeleye Span. Harries also plays keyboards and percussion here on what is essentially a duo record. Beresford’s partner Rosie Green adds occasional backing vocals and the record also benefits from the engineering skills of Dylan Fowler at whose studio the album was recorded.

“Dark Transport” is a deeply personal record but one which also retains an oblique quality. It was inspired by the death of Beresford’s mother on the Mediterranean island of Gozo where his parents both lived. Gozo is part of the Maltese group of islands and a place I have been lucky to visit on several occasions thus giving me an extra personal interest in this project. 
Beresford has stripped down the key elements of his mother’s story and lyrically presents his words in a type of “haiku” format. The essentials of the event remain but are cloaked in an air of mystery. Beresford has allowed the listener room for interpretation rather than spelling everything out. The fragmented lyrics have a poetic quality that evoke both the claustrophobic atmosphere of the events he describes but also something of the nature of Gozo itself. Hopefully the album proved to be a cathartic exercise for it’s creator. 

Much of the music has a hypnotic, dreamlike quality about it but still carries a bite. In this way it sometimes reminds me of the late, great John Martyn. The guitar treatments and voicings are suitably atmospheric and support the tangled emotions expressed in the words superbly. Songs such as “Waves Of Heart” and “CCU” express the desperate, claustrophobic emotions of the bedside vigil at Gozo Hospital. “5.45” describes the healing effect on the writer of the simple act of taking a coffee in a market square café.

Elsewhere “The Serpent And The Cross” and “Dry Heat” evoke Gozo itself, a devoutly Catholic community with some stunning ecclesiastical architecture.. Beresford summons up not only images of saints and altars but also serpents and sin. It’s an evocative picture especially for those of us lucky enough to have visited the place he describes.

The opening “Sahha” and “Stone Army” reference the “Dark Transport” of the album title, the airport on Malta itself and the ferry that connects the two islands. Both become “dark transport” as Beresford travels to the islands in the face of tragedy. 

“Scent” and the closing “Harm’s Way” are both valedictory, whist simultaneously reflecting on the nature of human existence and mortality.

The songs are relatively unstructured, there are few traditional verses and choruses and Harries’ role is largely textural. There is virtually no orthodox rhythmic, time keeping, pizzicato bass playing. Instead there are eerie bowings and scrapings, the type of techniques more commonly deployed by free jazz bassists, an area in which the versatile Harries has previously worked. Ghostly spoken words weave their way in and out of the music in a subliminal manner, more akin to, say, Pat Metheny’s “As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls” than the signposting of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon”.

“Dark Transport” is not exactly a jolly record but it is a sustained piece of mood building, lovingly crafted and undoubtedly a success on it’s own terms. It’s a record that addresses issues that are both universal and deeply personal and from that point of view deserves to be widely heard. However as somebody once said “mankind can only bear so much reality” so hand on heart it’s not the kind of album that I could to recommend to everybody. For those of us who feel that all the best music has a touch of darkness to it this is a fascinating listen, not the kind of album you’d play all the time but no less rewarding for all that. 
Details of “Dark Transport” and Charlie’s three previous albums “Smiles And Fists” (2001) “505” (2002) and “The Room Is Empty” (2005) can be found at http://www.brightfieldproductions.co.uk
Charlie and his family are raising funds to help the Gozo CCU (Critical Care Unit). Donations can be made via Charlie’s myspace page http://www.myspace.com/charlieberesford

Dark Transport

Charlie Beresford

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3 out of 5

Dark Transport

Music that is deeply personal but simultaneously oblique."Dark Transport" is a sustained piece of mood building, lovingly crafted and undoubtedly a success on its own terms

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Charlie Beresford was raised in Coventry but now lives in the Welsh Marches. This latest release on his own Brightfield label sees him collaborating with Tim Harries, an experienced musician who has worked as a bassist in both the folk and jazz spheres collaborating with artists as diverse as Bill Bruford, Richard Fairhurst and Steeleye Span. Harries also plays keyboards and percussion here on what is essentially a duo record. Beresford’s partner Rosie Green adds occasional backing vocals and the record also benefits from the engineering skills of Dylan Fowler at whose studio the album was recorded.

“Dark Transport” is a deeply personal record but one which also retains an oblique quality. It was inspired by the death of Beresford’s mother on the Mediterranean island of Gozo where his parents both lived. Gozo is part of the Maltese group of islands and a place I have been lucky to visit on several occasions thus giving me an extra personal interest in this project. 
Beresford has stripped down the key elements of his mother’s story and lyrically presents his words in a type of “haiku” format. The essentials of the event remain but are cloaked in an air of mystery. Beresford has allowed the listener room for interpretation rather than spelling everything out. The fragmented lyrics have a poetic quality that evoke both the claustrophobic atmosphere of the events he describes but also something of the nature of Gozo itself. Hopefully the album proved to be a cathartic exercise for it’s creator. 

Much of the music has a hypnotic, dreamlike quality about it but still carries a bite. In this way it sometimes reminds me of the late, great John Martyn. The guitar treatments and voicings are suitably atmospheric and support the tangled emotions expressed in the words superbly. Songs such as “Waves Of Heart” and “CCU” express the desperate, claustrophobic emotions of the bedside vigil at Gozo Hospital. “5.45” describes the healing effect on the writer of the simple act of taking a coffee in a market square café.

Elsewhere “The Serpent And The Cross” and “Dry Heat” evoke Gozo itself, a devoutly Catholic community with some stunning ecclesiastical architecture.. Beresford summons up not only images of saints and altars but also serpents and sin. It’s an evocative picture especially for those of us lucky enough to have visited the place he describes.

The opening “Sahha” and “Stone Army” reference the “Dark Transport” of the album title, the airport on Malta itself and the ferry that connects the two islands. Both become “dark transport” as Beresford travels to the islands in the face of tragedy. 

“Scent” and the closing “Harm’s Way” are both valedictory, whist simultaneously reflecting on the nature of human existence and mortality.

The songs are relatively unstructured, there are few traditional verses and choruses and Harries’ role is largely textural. There is virtually no orthodox rhythmic, time keeping, pizzicato bass playing. Instead there are eerie bowings and scrapings, the type of techniques more commonly deployed by free jazz bassists, an area in which the versatile Harries has previously worked. Ghostly spoken words weave their way in and out of the music in a subliminal manner, more akin to, say, Pat Metheny’s “As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls” than the signposting of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon”.

“Dark Transport” is not exactly a jolly record but it is a sustained piece of mood building, lovingly crafted and undoubtedly a success on it’s own terms. It’s a record that addresses issues that are both universal and deeply personal and from that point of view deserves to be widely heard. However as somebody once said “mankind can only bear so much reality” so hand on heart it’s not the kind of album that I could to recommend to everybody. For those of us who feel that all the best music has a touch of darkness to it this is a fascinating listen, not the kind of album you’d play all the time but no less rewarding for all that. 
Details of “Dark Transport” and Charlie’s three previous albums “Smiles And Fists” (2001) “505” (2002) and “The Room Is Empty” (2005) can be found at http://www.brightfieldproductions.co.uk
Charlie and his family are raising funds to help the Gozo CCU (Critical Care Unit). Donations can be made via Charlie’s myspace page http://www.myspace.com/charlieberesford


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