The Enright House – A Maze and Amazement

2007, A Low Hum, HUM031

The Enright House have produced a luscious polished product in their debut album, A Maze and Amazement. To most, the band is probably best known from touring with A Low Hum, who happens to be the label responsible for this release.

The album is like a complex and emotional soundtrack, opening with the beautiful and floating “Scattering the Sun like Gunshot”. At 7 minutes its almost all instrumentally driven with the vocals not appearing till 5 minutes into the song, and they don’t dominate, simply add a layer of sound to the already rich soundscape.

The electronic characteristics of A Maze and Amazement remind me of Postal Service with a hint of Sigur Ros at the beginning and end of the album. It seems the middle tracks rely heavily on sampled vocal elements. Aside from the opening track the standout song would be “On the banks of the Rhein”. The album is a rich textural tapestry which will keep you company on the long winter nights.

The Enright House [October 2006]

[Originally published in A Low Hum, October 2006]

Skittery percussion, ethereal drones with metallic resonance, a disturbingly atmospheric sound counter-balanced by human, emotive vocals The Enright House sounds like a dramatic balancing act; much like the crumbling architectural images that adorn his website. But The Enright House’s songs aren’t falling apart at the seams; they’ve been meticulously composed using computer manipulation and display a great depth of ideas and incredible texture.

So who is The Enright House? I wasn’t quite sure myself my exposure to Mark Roberts project had previously been limited to his MySpace recordings and a brief introduction at the last Low Hum show so I asked Mark to give me a little background.

The dry bit: I was born and raised in a small village on the Rhein River in Germany. After finishing school, I moved to Chicago, where I studied music composition, guitar and philosophy. In 2004 I came to New Zealand (where I also have family) to sit for a masters degree in philosophy (aesthetics), which, if all goes well, should be completed by February next year.

Mark’s love and involvement with music was forged at a very early age thanks to a musical family, and carried through his adolescent and teenage years in Germany; where he trained to become a concert performer after taking up classical guitar at the age of just 12.

My mother is an opera singer, and my father, too, had studied music. Mom never believed much in babysitters, so, from the earliest ages on, she would take me with her anywhere she sung. In fact, I think she was singing right through her pregnancy, so I guess that means I kind of got my start in music before I was even properly born.

So far Mark has avoided performing the material in a live environment, as he feels more comfortable presenting the work as a labor-of-love composition; though with a modified approach on more recent recordings, that may change. Recently he has been involved with Tristen and Simon from 5 1/2 Minutes – a local live electronic duo that has grown out of the dark and eclectic Locking Cycle; and writing with Tristen as Off Loving Memories.

The first thing to point out is that, were I planning on playing music off the Broken Hands EP, I would quite possibly hang myself out of sheer frustration. I cannot see how most of those songs would work on stage without the help of other musicians, and I just cannot see having other people involved in such a personal way as to be part of my music. So, for the longest time, I simply shied away from the idea of bringing The Enright House to live audiences.

However, since I started work on the new album about half a year ago, I started realizing that the kind of textures I was using could quite plausibly be reproduced by a single performer and a fair chunk of modern technology, without losing the sense of spontaneity and virtuosity on stage, which, to me, is paramount to the notion of performance. My guitar, for example, is fed through a series of pedals and loop stations, bearing closer resemblance to the console of the challenger space ship (although, hopefully, more reliable than that poor vessel), than it does to a traditional pedal board. I will be using two huge guitar amps running in stereo, radios, cassette players, a synth, and possibly a laptop (though I am still undecided on the latter).

Though noticeably abstract, the material is still very song-orientated. His songs are spiked with poetry and manipulated samples; often with great affect. The cryptic and mysteriously devious ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ relays the interview of a promiscuous young girl; removing the actual sexual overtones of her speech, only the tone and feeling of her voice reveals this context yet her intentions seem almost obvious. It’s this masking that makes The Enright House so special nothing is obvious; yet context seems implied.

A compositional background lies at the heart of The Enright House. With grounding in aesthetics and educated theories on what defines art Mark has a very strong vision for how he can present his music and his architectural photography and artwork reflects this.

If I had to sum up the goal of my music, it would be “the beautification of the derelict.” I carry around with me the same kind of conflict I think many of us do: on the one hand, I despise this world and the people that inhabit it, on the other hand, I adore life and find myself enchanted by how wonderful people can be. For a long time (i.e. during the Broken Hands EP) I thought I could just go about writing pretty indie-pop music – I wanted quite desperately to believe that the world needed music born out of kindness and sweet memories, but after a while, I really felt like a coward for failing to probe beyond the layers of sentiment and nostalgia.

I love this world, yes, but not despite the shit and the piss, the idiocy and irrationality, but because even the basest elements of life are ultimately part of this one unstoppable wave of existence that ever-so-often fills us with appreciation and a sense of awe. I want my music to reflect in a microcosm the way I perceive this world, and thus, despite moments of tenderness and beauty, to find solace also in dissonance and ugliness, noise and desperation. In a way, we are self-destructive creatures that too often end up sabotaging our lives through trivial pursuits and trivial thinking, and, my music, too, is turning out to be ever more self-destructing and auto-sabotaging. Thus, I’ve started using more destructive effects in my music, resorting to extended techniques on my guitar, singing in lower registers than I’m used to, incorporating field recordings of the outside world, and so forth. The goal being to reach an ever greater degree of emotional and sonic complexity, which, however, also leaves space enough for a delicate and traditional moments of beauty.

With a new determined outlook to perform in a live capacity, and talk of interest from an established US independent label; Roberts is looking to the future. With completion of the album now imminent; plans are afoot for it to be released locally, plus nation-wide distribution through Amplifier.co.nz. Look out for The Enright House on independent radio stations across New Zealand.

A Flight To Blackout

Biography

Excellent instrumentalist trio from the garden city formed by Matt Craw (Guitar), James Musgrave (Bass), and Jared Kelly (Drums) in early 2005. Taking cues from a variety of informed directions, the group were prolific features of the local live scene, and attached themselves to both R18 and all-age crowds with varying success. Playing an involved instrumental sound heavy on dynamics, the group enlisted ex-Substandard bassist Gareth Heta as a 2nd guitarist for a short period before reverting back to their original configuration. However, this was soon broken when Kelly left to play with the Pickups full-time, so Cam Walker was recruited to carry on where Jared left off.

Throughout later 2005 and early 2006 the group had a strong association with fellow garden city instrumentalists Coal, with Walker sitting at the throne for both groups for a period – however this was halted by problems with the tendons in Walker’s wrist, which caused him a great deal of pain during a show with the touring groups Jakob and American outfit No Funeral.

After losing Walker, Craw and Musgrave added Thomas Lambert (synth/guitar – aka i.Ryoko) in order to create a fuller sound than the rock trio lineup. Through him they found a great replacement drummer in Adam Jack, who picked up the groove of the songs quickly and added his own heavy hitting style. At this time, Gareth Heta again showed an interest in being part of the band, so he was recruited on guitar (and bass when James swaps to guitar). These changes have lead to further creativity within the group, with new songs eventuating at the start of 2007 (including for the first time, a song with vocals provided by Musgrave).

More live shows followed, a highlight being a gig with The Enright House, Pandora’s Bucket, and Wellingtonians Donatello. Towards the end of 2007, A Flight To Blackout entered the RDU Roundup band competition without any expectations of success, and came away with 2nd place, pipped by the more RDU-friendly (but by no means lesser) Bang! Bang! Eche!

As seemed to be the rule by now, Jack left the group at the end of 2007 to travel to Canada, and Lambert left for Wellington. This allowed the remaining members to focus on the tracking of their debut release, which is currently being mixed and produced by Thomas for release on his and partner Matt Faisander’s Sonorous Circle label before the end of 2008.

In early 2008 Hayden Williams and Josh Black (both also of Neil Robinson) made fine replacements on drums and synth respectively, their first show with the band being the farewell/fundraiser of friends The O’Lovelys.

Members

  • Matt Craw (Guitar, 2005 – 2008)
  • James Musgrave (Bass/Vocals/Guitar, 2005 – 2008)
  • Jared Kelly (Drums, 2005?)
  • Gareth Heta (Guitar/Bass, 2005?, 2007?)
  • Cam Walker (Drums, 2005? – 2006?)
  • Thomas Lambert (Keyboards/Guitar, 2006 – 2007)
  • Adam Jack (Drums, 2006 – 2007)
  • Hayden Williams (Drums, 2008)
  • Josh Black (Keyboards, 2008)

Discography

Links

 

The Enright House

[flickr-photo:id=1081385107,size=t] [flickr-photo:id=494490829,size=t] The Enright House is the not quite pop, not quite post rock, brain-child of German born Mark Roberts.
The live band consists of Roberts along with Thomas Lambert on guitar (also of A Flight to Blackout), Simon Gemmill on Drums and Evan Schaare on synths.
discography
picks in bold

  • Broken Hands EP [2006 A Low Hum HUM021]
  • A Low Hum Singles Club Issue 1 [2007 A Low Hum]
  • A Maze And Amazement LP [2007 A Low Hum HUM031] rn

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