A while back someone blasted our neighborhood with a stencil art of Zappa and the caption “do you like my new vehicle’. While Gareth Dickson is not the subject, the very feel of Collected Recordings, the lilt of his voice, the soft melancholy, and the brittle edged folk guitar inspires the comparison to Nick Drake. As if Dickson were the new vehicle.
Glaswegian Dickson opens the compilation with “Fifth (The Impossibility of Death)’, a form of sonic sculpture with layers of static, long extensions of tones, plays of surfaces extending and reshaping while a minimum of guitar play opens and heightens melodic possibilities. It highlights the use of reverb that in the more folk driven tracks is played not to as radical a conclusion but to create atmospheric effect for the delivery of Dickson’ poetic weavings. If the comparisons to Drake are to abound it is clear in the halting melancholic intonation on “Song Woman Wine’, where words are extended as halting tones into wistful ether. Such is the romantic construction of the folk realm that cleverly creates a mystery with a simple shape change. “Trip to Blanik’ returns to instrumental guitar and effects landscape, where cleverness and densely packed and layered experimentation abound.
Dickson squeezes counterpoised rhythm forms out on “AGOA’ in a halting tilter forward insistence, that displays his guitar prowess and just as effortlessly offers a sleek folk simplicity with velvet charmed tones lulling the listener into ambient drenched calm. It is the complex simplicity offered that is deceptive and welcome, notably in the ominously strummed “Technology’ which builds a deep tone and uses the tension of building, tempo changing melodic lines and inserting a bright break, a light revealing the shadows.
It is the contrast between the two personas that Dickson presents, the guitar experimentalist ripe with ingenuity and skill brandished sharp to the ear and the charmed simplicity of the folk vocal pieces that give this album the sense of being collected. While it does not hold in a coherent statement of the album format Collected Recordings is indicative of a burgeoning talent delivers easy and sincere pleasure to the ear.