Peter Murphy ‘Ninth’ – Review
“Ninth”Â Nettwerk Music
My own knowledge of Peter Murphy stretches right back to the seminal days of Bauhaus; I first heard, and bought the Small Wonder released ”ËBela Lugosi’s Dead’ (1979) on the John Peel show and was instantly attracted; I essentially remained a Bauhaus fan up until the release of the woeful ”ËZiggy Stardust’ cover, and to pledge allegiance was to declare oneself a goth, which would never do!
Bauhaus subsequently shattered into many factions ”â Love And Rockets, Tones On Tail, plus David J and Daniel Ash solo releases. In addition enigmatic front man Murphy also went solo, the first fruits of which being 1989’s “Love Hysteria”Â ”â an excellent album that clearly demonstrated Murphy’s desire to move towards more experimental and ethereal soundscapes. However, my ability to follow both Murphy’s and his ex-cohorts journey was hampered by the sheer volume of releases, to the point my finances could no longer keep up.
Since that date Murphy has been an infrequent visitor to the UK, and seems comfortable with the mantle ”Ëthe godfather of goth’ ”â the goth tag in itself repelling me to the extent that the vast majority of his outpourings have passed me by. As such I was delighted to reacquaint myself with said ”Ëgodfather’ when he played at the Rebellion Festival in the summer of 2010. The set was obviously designed to appeal to a festival crowd and was peppered with Bauhaus originals, and more upbeat material pulled from his own back catalogue ”â the result being that I was keen to reassess Peter Murphy. “Ninth”Â provides that opportunity.
This is Murphy’s ninth solo album; hence the apt title, and according to the sleeve notes the recording was funded by a staunch Murphy supporter, and completed in just seven days of intense activity.
I was surprised, I was mistakenly expecting more indulgent notation coupled with poetic verse ”â what you actually get is an album full of swagger; opening track ”ËVelocity Bird’ rides a huge distorted guitar riff with a kick-ass accompanying beat; that said Murphy’s distinct vocalisation threatens to spoil the track ”â he seems to be struggling to project his voice, he is literally being drowned out by the sheer volume of his backing band.
”ËSeesaw Sway’ is perhaps Murphy realising the limits of his range, he seems happy to return to his more familiar vocal limits on this darkly simmering track that is lifted by a particularly catchy dual guitar hook with decent backing vocals that give Murphy’s voice the necessary support and result in arguably the strongest and certainly most instant track on the album.
”ËPeace To Each’ veers dangerously close to metal or even glam for my own liking. Has Murphy been observing the other alleged ”Ëgodfather of goth’ Nick Cave in his current Grinderman guise, and tried to strip away the smoke and mirrors to create a return to source release? If so, unlike Cave he has not quite hit the mark.
”ËI Spit Roses’ has already been lifted from the album for a (at least in the USA) single release ”â it’s a more sombre affair, with some clever keyboard work.
“Ninth”Â is a confident release, though it has moments of sheer over indulgence; ”ËSecret Silk Society’ being a case in point, a semi droning number that features every one of Murphy’s trademark flamboyant vocal traits, he croons, he talks, the odd vocal inflections they are all on display, before we are led to the album finale ”ËCrÃÂ¨me De La CrÃÂ¨me’ a haunting piano driven piece with accompanying string arrangements, that Murphy threatens to overshadow with his overstretched crooning.
Were “Ninth”Â is most effective is upon the more basic rock numbers – ”ËMemory Go’ and ”ËThe Prince & Old Lady Shade’ the later being carried by an ascending guitar riff with a subtle accompanying melody. ”ËUneven & Brittle’ is a huge song that no doubt lends itself to the live performance, an area were Murphy excels ”â don’t forget he has in the recent past been happy to perform whilst being lowered upside down supported by chains; you just can’t shake ”Ëgoth’ from some people!
This a strong release, a return to form even – it would have been easy for Murphy to rehash his outtakes from the past, and he deserves credit for still trying to push the boundaries albeit remaining within the wider ”Ëgoth’ genre.