Posts Tagged ‘Mark Eitzel’

The Ugly american

A lull after the electronically ambient album ‘The Invisible Man ‘ (2001) Mark Eitzel’s recording output was followed by two releases: a covers album ‘music for courage and confidence’ (2002) and an album of solo and American Music Club songs re-interpretations ‘The Ugly American’ (2003) performed by a band with traditional greek musicians. The Ugly American‘ was originally mooted as an ep after an invitation to Athens, Greece to reinterpret certain songs under the guidance of respected local musician Manolis Famellos. the trip to Athens, Greece materialized in november 2001 and a full-blown 10 track album was agreed.

The subsequent album was recorded and released in 2003 on cd only. seventeen years later, with a rejigged artwork and an abbey road cut, The Ugly American‘ ‘is unveiled for the first time on vinyl. the ten tracks cover a varied period of Mark Eitzel’s solo output, the cult band American Music Club albums, and a sole composition from manolis famellos (‘love’s humming’). all songs were recorded with the addition of traditional greek instruments (bouzouki, tzouras, cretan lyra & zournas) under the guidance of Manolis Famellos and his band. at a time were American Music Club albums where hard to obtain re-interpretations of ‘Western Sky’, ‘Last Harbour’ and ‘Jenny’ were treated with effervescence and stunning new arrangements. ‘anything‘ (originally on ‘the invisible man‘) as a stark and bleak electronica track, is now heightened to a majestic instrumentation opus. the album retains the heartfelt tales of sadness that you would expect from self-deprecating mark eitzel in a folk and pastoral context.

Before the album was even recorded, the trip to Greece was deemed in certain quarters as controversial, an ‘unnecessary excursion’ with cries of ‘sacrilege’ buoyed on by a skewered conception of greek music, thus expecting a ‘freak novelty’. today this beautiful recording is revered for its haunting arrangements and Mark Eitzel’s deep warm and rich vocal delivery. a revisionist detour that casts Mark Eitzel’s impressive song-writing skills in a renewed and sparkling adaptations. “…grace and beauty that few can match” hot press // “this is not the most obvious coupling…but it’s a beautiful affair nonetheless” .

Imagine Jesus at that uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner where everybody’s trying not to bring up politics and you’ve got a good idea of the tone of Mark Eitzel’s solemn gem. It’s the perfect song for these perilous times, and he nurses his cynicism with all the wit and verve we’ve come to expect from him: “The soundtrack for everything I see is played by those hacks from the Titanic.” .

from “Hey Mr Ferryman” (2017), Decor Records