come as a surprise that David Bowie counts himself a fan of Charlie Alex
March’s baroque pop. Home/Hidden,
March’s wordless debut full-length, is a trove of radiant arrangements that are
just peculiar enough to have garnered the UK-based musician some session work
during Bowie’s Hunky Dory recordings.
Alongside The High Llamas’ all-things-1960s devotee Sean O’Hagan, March crafts
often precious, orchestral outings on Home,
and when he really struts his shit,
these gems connect sunshine pop legend Curt Boettcher, World’s Fair
soundtracker Attilio Mineo, and Aphex Twin in a lush, flowery union of
pitch-shifted space age electronics and rich organic accompaniment.
March folds dense strings over harpsichord runs, and fiddles with a host of
theremins for hyper-melodic, sci-fi-inspired electro that could be mistaken for
camp at times. Powerful pop tendencies yielded copious ooh’s and aah’s as well
as classic-film violin stabs on Home/Hidden,
and without the more universally digestible song framework, “Snow
Feet” and “Plan 9” would be positively freakish. The latter nods
fondly at Ed Wood in more than just name alone; its beds of synth brass and
Moog keyboard textures offer likable, rubbery instability, and the experience
warms like a fireplace toward the end. The last few fleshed-out stanzas of
“Plan 9” are gorgeous, with all elements suddenly rendering March’s
ominous craft a shimmering thing of beauty before it slips out of earshot.
Next to its
wealth of gurgling weirdness, Home/Hidden‘s
organic instruments are mic’d so closely that it’s as if March is positioned in
front of the piano in the next room. The ivories on Home/Hidden‘s unadorned closer “Son Of a Joe” are tracked
with glasscutter precision, so the finger taps are as audible as the notes
themselves. Bare and simple, “Son” counters quietly all of the
spacecraft soundtracking that’s come before it. It’s a fitting curtain call,
but this is practically March’s first act.
Standout Tracks: “Son Of a Joe,” “Cortot
No. 7” DOMINIC UMILE