Once a percussionist in the English jazz, indie-folk group, Portico Quartet, now a brilliant guitar player, Nick Mulvey, releases his debut album in the shadow, as if he wanted to suit the intimate sound he created on this record. He also played the hang, a 21st century percussion instrument, for those who are not familiar with it. But he’s a multi-instrumentalist and a free thinker it seems to me. Not only that his album is eclectic, it takes you to a special kind of atmosphere where you are pushed to dig deeper into yourself and think more freely.
This music takes you on a grungy road trip (Juramidam) on a windy and intimate journey (First Mind), on a trip to some exotic places seen through the eyes of a northern man (Cucurucu). And that is precisely how I would describe this album, a northern man’s playing evocative of southern seas. Nick Mulvey did, indeed, spend some time in the Caribbean, he studied music in Cuba, he has a degree in ethnomusicology focusing on African music, and that’s where his vibe comes from. It as confusing combination of north and south, confusing since you have to think what this is, and who this man is, and what does his music remind you of. Well, it may remind you of Jack Johnson at places, Steve Reich, or John Butler Trio, or even Jose Gonzales. That is all up to you. But the truth is that this music takes you to some wonderful places you think you have but actually have never seen before.
The first single, Cucurucu, is a grower. It introduces you slowly into the atmosphere of the song, and then when the beat starts it is rhythmically delayed a bit. It makes you think at first, you start thinking, and then the song creeps in on you, and gets into your skin. It is about a young pigeon holding his mother at her feet, yearning to belong, while his mother sings him a lesson of life saying: listen to me son I’ll tell you why your father’s strong, cause he can still say every single day he’s yearning to belong. ’’And all of my manhood is cast, down in the flood of remembrance, and I weep like a child for the past singing cucurucu...’’ There, all of his manhood and pride are gone, he is reminiscing on his past and says he’s a man who cries and weeps, and wants to know where his home is. He’s yearning to belong. Everything is covered in fog of trying to remember of an ocean scent, of a wind that takes you back to where you really belong. It is now clear that this is one the best songs of this year.
Nick Mulvey is one of those people you just have to listen to, ears and then mind fixedly reproducing pictures, while you just dive and lose your senses. And it is not only because of music, when you come to hear the lyrics you will simply smile.