Australia - Full Moon 82 - 06/14/03
Pharmacy Records/Broken Horse
Second album from the Melbourne instrumental outfit sees them forge a bold new path following
their assured and acclaimed debut This Is Silver Ray.
The opener "Burning Romance" with its procession-like drums and 'wall of men choir' seeping
perfectly together through its gentle sway and turn makes it clear the 'Ray have grown increasingly
confident with their trademark guitar, piano and drums road show.
An unbridled optimism pervades "Come On Baby", perhaps their finest recorded moment. When the
harmonica bursts forth over the strum, you can almost envision the sun shining through the dark
canopy created by the debut album. The sensation is enhanced by the bold brushstrokes proclaiming
'new love' on the cover that has the train spotter in me yearning for a twelve-inch vinyl release
to pore over. The cold little jewel case just doesn't do the cover imagery justice.
Cam Butler's trademark soaring dream-like guitar embellishment, heard best on "You Set Me Free",
has left a considerable stamp on the 'Ray's sound. Butler was largely responsible for the beautifully
lush and languid Story of Us album from noteworthy Melbournian Charlie Marshall and it's
abundantly clear that he is growing in leaps and bounds with each recorded effort.
The title track commences with wistful, meditative tinkling courtesy of Julitha Ryan on piano,
her deft touch being the other major force behind the Ray's sound. Midway through the song (and
a bit of Crazy Horse-like jagged rhythm guitar!) a saxophone comes wailing in before the
over-seventeen-minute piece winds down to close the album.
For those after a reference point think Good Son-era Bad Seeds - and perhaps those who
enjoyed the drama of Disintegration-era Cure will find a lot to adore here as well. Others
have tagged them the best instrumental band since The Dirty Three, though what Silver Ray create
is a space truly their own and one that will have the keen listener returning many times for some
high quality escapism. Surrender to their riches of darkness and light, let it cascade and flicker
in dim candlelight and wine. This is damn special.
Copyright © 2003 Brian Stradbrook