El Duende :: Music :: Fleeting Glimpses

Fleeting Glimpses

Fleeting Glimpses
From the adrenaline rush of Creatures, to the Blade Runner end of world imagery of High Tide, this thing is going to take you somewhere grand.
Round and Round will get into your head and stay there. Same with Flickering, with its mad Marlborough Country style theme at the end. Trying is about as catchy as a song can be, with a wild trumpet ride in the middle, and a piano hook that doesn't let you go. This song is probably the single.

Then there are the cello and violin songs: Carelessness, Middle of Nowhere, Fairytales - these will draw you in and delight you.
Lights of Town is pure pop a la Go-Betweens, with a gorgeous soprano sax line and some haunting lyrics.

But perhaps the finest moments here can be found in the epic Path of No Return - half rock song half Otis Redding tinged soul ballad, that goes past the 7 minute mark. This is a big song in every way. Structurally it resembles Layla, and like that song, it can take you into the other world, like all the best music can. High Tide does this as well - it is a giant of a song.

This is an album you can live with, and it will keep giving you pleasure. It will charm you with its tenderness and rock you with its bursts of wildness. It features the able hands of Genevieve Maynard at the production controls and the mixing desk. She is a talented singer songwriter herself, and so when producing, brings to the table a deep understanding of what must be brought out to make the music great. She does that here.
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  • Author: Bob Blunt
    ‘Everybody moves away yeah, everybody changes’ once sang the mercurial Ron S. Peno, of our own seminal Australian band, Died Pretty, circa mid 1980s. It’s a simple yet most poignant lyric, one that we are all familiar with, which befits tales of people that we all have come to know, even our own selves. Those people who move elsewhere, who change their ways, some due to their own enemies within, their own ‘creatures’ as Daniel Morphett here puts it. It’s about drawing a line in the sand, and moving on, and it isn’t always a bad thing either. Here in ‘Fleeting Glimpses’ by El Duende, after a few plays, you may well know what I mean. It’s as if Morphett has picked up his own past, and is now running and exorcising it.

    What I like about this album is the openness and familiarity of Morphett’s journey. On tracks like, ‘Lights of Town’, and ‘Path of No Return’, it’s not hard to see that there is a personable path unfolding for this tall gangly man. In the former song, he talks about how the lights ‘call you and they haunt you’, while in the latter he openly expresses how he ‘had to give it up’ and how he ‘had to make it work’ to ultimately to build what he calls ‘a little buttercup’, a refuge, a new place. In the very good ‘Follow Me Home’, Morphett achingly bellows that feeling of being lost and not knowing why, and then coming so close to something that you ‘can taste it’. All of the songs here are sung in a beautiful emotive manner – it is cry in your beer material that is genuine and authentic. I say that because like his peers, Gareth Liddiard of the Drones, or even the late David McComb of the Triffids, Morphett doesn’t need to feign a UK or USA accent. There are no disguises; he simply writes about how he feels without care for any airs or graces.

    For the uninitiated, Morphett once fronted one of Sydney’s “almost famous” live institutions from the early/mid 1980s to the early 1990s, the Craven Fops - a raw imploding beast that verged on the epic, but unfortunately soared too quickly, without enough notice. They were almost too good for this town, in a time when rock and roll lineage overshadowed intelligible emotive raw tunes. Back then, Daniel had an Ian Curtis energy about him, which was ably backed by a unique combination of everyday characters and artistes. They were personable and likeable, with Morphett driving the band, and its van (an ambulance), to semi fame.

    But as the saying goes, the Fops changed; they rocked and they rolled, with Morphett relocating to Spain, where he wrote a bunch of new songs. On return, he cleverly recruited sound bassist Gary Manly from Tactics, and the renowned drumming talents of John Fenton from Crow. The beautiful moods of violinist Christian Rosenmai were also added, providing the near perfect foil for Morphett, but he still wanted more. He then invited a multiple brass section to the studio, including his cousin Jason Morphett, and ex Laughing Clown guest Glad Reed to complement what is now the ultimate recipe.

    It’s 2009 now, and Morphett soldiers on happily with his new band in tow. What we have now is a more mature refreshing line-up, which sometimes echo such sounds as The National and Morrissey; honest earnest tunes that one can relate to, and ones that will definitely have you humming for more.

    Review by Bob Blunt (October 2009)
    Australian rock bands don't tend to favour subtlety, and when they do they often get it wrong : even the great Go-Betweens occasionally teetered over into tweeness or preciousness. But not Sydney's El Duende. Their sense of balance on this (second) album is acute, tempering passion with understatement and detail with simplicity.

    The tone is set with the rousing opener, Creatures. It's joyous and romantic, but also melancholy and elegiac. Numerous highlights follow, built on a rich bedrock of cello, sax and trumpet (mostly courtesy of one Virgil Reality). Singer, songwriter and erstwhile Craven Fop Daniel Morphett has a deep and expressive voice, which is counterpointed by a sinister, droning and Velvet-tinged droning quality on High Tide. There are lilting gentle melodies, but also a stirring finale in Amber And Wine. Its intensity is underpinned by Christian Rosenmai's violin, which has its own internal dynamic as it veers from consoling to edgy.

    Good music often comes with an inbuilt paradox : its very strength and originality brings to mind illustrious forebears or influences. So it is with Fleeting Glimpses. There are echoes or suggestions here of Scott Walker at his most reflective, of John Cale (circa Paris 1919), of latterday mavericks such as Willard Grant Conspiracy... even of mariachi. But the net result is distinctive.

    Morphett's lyrics are a treat, with their sad/wry observations about the ways we undervalue nature and cripple our own emotional potential. (On Carelessness, he sings "The outer sheen of carelessness / Betrays the heart of carefulness / They are the same I guess.") There's exasperation here, but also hope.

    The tunes stick in your head, too. Now there's an unfashionable quality.

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