Album review: Marc Roberts – Ghost Of Clone

Words by Grey Malkin

Cardiff’s Marc (Zeuk) Roberts continues his exploration of the wyrd and wonderful corners of both psych folk and baroque pop with Ghost of Clone, an ambitious and highly satisfying book and album pairing that exemplifies Robert’s uniquely creative and distinctive approach. Following on from recent Zeuk missives Crow Spanner and Minutes (where Roberts set himself the task of creating 23 songs of around one minute each, in a splendidly eclectic and inventive manner), Ghost of Clone takes inspiration from the self-penned book of the same name that contains a series of fascinating and genuinely surreal haikus and poems that touch on Dada and symbolism. Whilst both can be enjoyed separately, there is an experiential argument that you will achieve a greater sense of Robert’s art and vision by combing the two, both publication and recording, for a proper trip down a beautifully idiosyncratic and addictive rabbit hole.

The album opens with Cat and Crow, an eight-minute epic of shimmering arpeggios and spoken word that floats and wisps along an eerie and hypnotic undercurrent. Looped and delayed shards of guitar stray into view, before settling like falling leaves into a series of calmer, trancelike drones. The lyrical or poetical content is dreamlike and hypnagogic, a series of hallucinatory and cosmiche images that both spellbind and transport. Narrator Mimi’s impassive but descriptive readings are equally mesmerizing, the effect as a whole is to take the listener out of the everyday, into somewhere brighter with a myriad of different hues and shades, and into a space altogether much, much stranger. Jimmy Otley’s bowed cello opens ‘It’s Fine, It’s All Part of It’ as the narration enters and seems to ebb and flow like waves, before the backing becoming more insistent and frenzied, to the accompaniment of tensely dramatic percussion. A lull allows the cello to breath on its own, to create a yearning and highly evocative mini symphony that comes drenched in sepia and melancholy. A possible album highlight, it evokes comparison to artists such as Laurie Anderson and John Cale, as well as Godspeed! You Black Emperor (Roberts has no fear of genre restrictions, much to his credit he follows his muse and where the song needs to go, which adds a pleasing unpredictability and intrigue to his releases). An ominous processionary beat enters, adding a funereal air, before accelerating and driving the song towards its sudden and breathtaking conclusion. Next, ‘Howl and Echo’, which weaves and wefts from love poem to a treatise on cloudwatching via a meeting of celestial beings, and which sits on a distant throb and peal of reverbed guitar, is a welcomingly disorientating yet beautiful ambient work. ‘Cascade’, by turn, is more jarring and unsettling, cello noise and repeated spoken phrases swirling to collage in an expertly crafted slice of experimental chamber music. ‘Come Like Moons’ begins with a spaced out Floydian guitar that frames the evocative spoken verse and offers a peaceful and otherworldly respite from the day-to-day, whilst closer ‘A Ghost Lost In The Light’ presents ascending cello runs and spooked voices from beyond the veil, as glistening percussion adds a spider web of structure to this ethereal piece.

Something both different and unique then, which has fast become Roberts modus operandi. This is not one of Zeuk’s song-based albums, that are equally worth seeking out for a blend of Peter Hamill, Syd Barrett and Current 93. Instead, Ghost of Clone provides a healthy dose of experimentalism with nods to Lamonte Young and Terry Riley in its chamber folk minimalism, whilst still being immersed in a drifting and encompassing psychedelia. This is unlike anything else you will hear this year, and probably long afterwards too; pick up the book, open the pages and press play. You will not regret it.

‘Ghost of Clone’ is available now as a CD, a book/CD pairing and as a download at Ghost Of Clone | Marc Roberts | David CW Briggs (bandcamp.com)

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