Fairewell – ‘Poor, Poor Grendel’ (Sonic Cathedral)



The revolted humanoid ogre, and tragic demonic figure of Grendel lies at the heart of Fairewell‘s debut concomitant suite.  Reinterpretations of the original Anglo-Saxon Beowulf poem don’t come anymore vociferating and ott, yet strangely empathetic, then Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture film treatment of 2007. Compassion is given to the vulnerable, but monstrous, Grendel; especially in his final death throes; shrunken, cowering, screaming and trembling like an infant in his mothers arms: a far cry from the berserker beast who rips about the mead halls of the atavistic Viking-esque King at the start of the tale.

All that humility is best served up on the opening reverential, and ethereal, ‘Grendel (Apocalyptic Visions)’ – a grandiose heavenly choral lamentation borrowed from Popol Vuh – and suffused throughout the more emotive and soundscape sculptured instrumental passages.  However: what starts out as an interesting concept soon retreats back into the confines of a muggy produced, and often, wishy-washy placeable strain of indie. The vocally accompanied – rather then led – tracks dip into a collage of Tears For Fears, OMD and Mew for references; with a strong penchant for dry-ice 80s synth.

Always congruous and soaked in reverb, the mundanity of our daily trudge is lent gravitas: ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ has our narrator sleepwalking through Tesco’s – rather aptly, the 27-year old Sheffield native also plays in the punk group, Tesco SS – whilst suddenly being ht with some kind of epiphany and realization of loneliness.  It’s only when Fairewell turns to the elegiac and forlorn that things begin to sound impressively descriptive and efficacious: the introductory requiem of solace and expansive choral split track ‘Wild Meadows/I’ve Been Locked Away’, and reverberating mournful, ‘Grendel (Reprise)’, remain the most promising compositions on this tome.

The album depicts our artist etched in a crouch position, underground in a suffocating size cave whilst the rest of the surrounding landscape looms large; a depiction that emphasizes alienation.  Disappointingly ‘Poor, Poor Grendel’ doesn’t quite match this detachment: the outsider in this regard sounds far too conventional.


Due: 05/12/2011


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