Alex Fergusson – The Castle

“The Castle” is a slightly unusual release for Eis & Licht. Alex Fergusson differs from most of the artists on the label both in the width and length of his musical background. It is not possible to review Fergusson without briefly summing up his career (his site has a detailed bio). He was co-founder of Alternative TV in 1977 and started Psychic TV with Genesis P. Orridge a few years later. After he left that project in 1987, only two or three solo albums followed, “The Essence” (2001) being the last one. Besides he was active as a producer now and then.

On “The Castle” 12 songs are collected, clocking in at just over half an hour. That is not the only nostalgic thing about the album. The music also has many references to classic bands from the 60’s and 70’s, especially though the somewhat psychedelic guitar sounds. Velvet Underground, Stooges, New York Dolls, are just some of the names that spring to mind.

The album opens with a semi-orchestral entrance, after which the in-your-face garagepunk of ‘Dark Angel’ follows, which you might know in a slightly different mix from the ‘Eisiges Licht 2’ sampler. Next is the acoustic tale ‘Bar Noir’, reminding me of the Canadese bard Leonard Cohen. Raw rock and dark folk ballads keep on alternating each other, with a more experimental piece sneaked in now and then (‘Odyssey’). Of the folky songs, ‘Twilight’ and ‘Let the sorrow go’ (featuring Rose McDowall) deserve special mention.

Because of the variety in styles and a somewhat relaxed mood, “The Castle” feels more like a loose collection of songs created in a spontaneous session, than a meticulously planned whole. Though it will probably have less impact on musical history than some of Fergusson’s previous creations, it’s an enjoyable short album with well-written songs, which would have been appreciated in any of the last four decades.

artist: Fergusson, Alex
label: Eis & Licht
details: cd, 12 tracks, 2006 [Eis048]