by Philip Moss
Opening with Song of Self Doubt – a succinct poem read by 84 year old folk songstress, Shirley Collins – we are ushered into the weird and wonderful world of Andromeda. A bizarro set of mini prog-folk operas from the songwriter, and former Trembling Bells drummer, Alex Neilson aka Alex Rex.
Where his last LP was formed of brutal honest and death marked metaphor – following the untimely passing of his brother – here we find Neilson holding up a mirror, and conjuring up tales and observations from deep within the self. I am Happy is an ironic allegory – ‘Laughing alone again, yes, I am happy!’ – backed by dirgy guitars, throbbing percussion and choral chants. Haunted House sees the Glasgow based songwriter joined by Sparrow and the Workshop’s Jill Lorean on the album’s disturbingly hypnotic first single.
But it’s the closing pair that are the most arresting for juxtaposed reasons. I am Not Hurting Anymore is a macabre rant – with Neilson’s delivery recalling a Murder Ballads era Nick Cave. While closer, Pass The Mask, is the most beautifully melodic moment on the record, which almost borders on crossing over into pop territory.
Andromeda is by no means an easy on the ears, but it is in its complexities where you will find its charm.
Secret Meeting score: 78