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Harsh, Final


This is the debut solo album from Danny Saul. Saul has been an active part of a largely undocumented Manchester music scene for nearly 10 years, having played with Stranger Son Of WB (bass), Easter (guitar), Polythene (attitude) and Barbarians (destroying stuff) amongst others, as well as continuing an ongoing live collaboration with Greg Haines as pub-ambient improvising duo Liondialer, whose LIVE! album was also released on White Box. As guitarist with Tsuji Giri, Saul self-released a Steve Albini-recorded album in 2005, with the band promptly self-destructing soon after. After all the tribulations associated with the process of production and shared decision-making, Danny rethought every aspect of how to perform and record with the minimum of intervention or interference; Harsh, Final is the culmination of a bloody minded pursuit for a personal satisfaction in both making music and doing things right. "Your Death" opens the album with softly plucked acoustic guitar, and proceeds to build layers of acoustic and electric guitars into a hazed atmosphere. Be sure -- Danny Saul is very much not a conventional singer-songwriter, as these are tunes sensitively drawn, defiantly made and deliberately too long for both radio and the short attention spans of his peers. The album builds to a head on the wonderful "Cannonball," just shy of thirteen minutes, and is bracketed by two shorter pieces "(harsh)" and "(final)," which bring a heady sense of disorientation and an unusual focus to the longer tune resting between them. Harsh, Final maintains this paired-down and deliberate atmosphere throughout -- recurring themes of death and escape culminate in a cover of a heartfelt lament for a personal loss by Manchester's Hotpants Romance (think a much more glamorous Shaggs), here reinterpreted as an oppressive and over-possessive love song. Its cumulative build of layered guitar and harmony vocals eventually fades, echoing the album as it began, with a single exposed musician (guitar, vocal), indelibly human and unforgettably resonant.