Reviews Craig Taylor-Broad For the Organs

Craig Taylor-Broad

For the Organs

Without doubt, one of my favorite musical discoveries of the past few years has been British singer-songwriter Craig Taylor-Broad. After first unleashing an (apparently, now deleted) EP under the name of the noises we make we no one is around in mid-2014, Taylor-Broad has continued a string of undeniably difficult yet definitively fascinating work – 2014's three-track Suicide Song EP (a perpetually downcast release written to draw attention to mental health issues and prompt those in trouble to seek help) was followed up by weirdo noise/electronic two-track release I Will Take the Dark Parts of You And I Will Eat Them (made in conjunction with musician Chris Trevena under the moniker of Kaninchen) and a single titled “lying” which was released alongside a very arty music video. Somewhere in the midst of all this, Taylor-Broad managed to get down to the writing and recording of his own debut full-length, which dropped on bandcamp around the year's midpoint. Equally as raw and unsettling as its creator's previous efforts, For the Organs is nevertheless similarly breathtaking for its simple yet captivating songwriting and storytelling - and for its ability to relate almost intolerable levels of personal torment and agony.

Truth be told, having listened to most everything offered up by Taylor-Broad over the past two years, it wasn't shocking to see that For the Organs started out with a song titled “I know how i'm going to die” and that peaked later on with the lengthy number “The death of Craig Taylor-broad.” This musician's entire output has seemingly been an effort to release inner demons – though some artists seem to draw attention to struggles of this nature that may or may not be as pronounced as they seem in an attempt to verify the social construct of the “tortured artist,” Taylor-Broad doesn't much seem to be playing games. Full of warbled, sometimes sobbed vocal passages and guitar parts that range from pleasant to downright violent and noisily destructive, the typical CT-B track might as well be a window into the mindset of someone on the losing side of a battle with life. One's appreciation of Taylor-Broad's music seems to be largely dependent on what a listener entered into it with in the first place, and I'm not entirely sure it's an altogether good thing that I, on some level at least, “get” what the musician is attempting to do.

Having an occasional level of cacophony that seeps in and out of focus throughout (one could say the same about the album as a whole), opener “I know how i'm going to die” is definitively lonely and quite confessional, with the singer earnestly relating potentially troubling lyrics over echoed, repetitive and mournful guitar lines. At times almost androgynous in terms of their sound, the often warbled vocals recall perhaps a clinically depressed Klaus Nomi for being unique and frequently strange yet utterly captivating. Even more devastating in terms of its lyrical content, “Waste of Life” sometimes throbs with guitar strumming that's recorded a little to hot for its own good. Regardless, the distortion actually fits in a song whose chorus finds Taylor-Broad bellowing out lines in a style that might not sound all that out of place in hardcore punk. Honestly, the variety of the vocal performance in this track especially is phenomenal, and part of the reason why the emotions are so affecting. An appealing spaciness masks some of the overwhelming despondency of “The moment you left,” though some of the track's more flowing instrumental parts carry over into “Giving you the help,” a piece punctuated by snarling guitar chugs and additional slightly screamy vocals.

Quite possibly the most pleasant (??) stretch of For the Organs, “Invisible monsters” is largely a rather gentle track until a jangling coda which erases any sense of comfort found earlier on, and the eight-plus minute “Death of Craig Taylor-Broad” is generally listenable even as it builds from a murky initial instrumental section into hellish stretches of distorted guitar and shrieking noise that pop up later on. Though the piece's tortured vocal outbursts are definitively disturbing in context, the piece actually isn't as flat-out insufferable as I would have expected – mind you, it's not hopeful by any standard, but it strikes me as kind of peaceful if universally gloomy. Taylor-Broad's ghostly, high-register vocals return to the forefront in “A nobody,” a story-like track about as loaded with painful, deeply unsettling imagery as anything else on the record. While I suspect a listener could almost, almost ignore some of the moments of dread found elsewhere on the album, the climax of this song lurched me out of a trance-like haze instantaneously before finale “End Song” wrapped things up in a curiously reassuring and comparatively warm manner. I really like how this last track operates in the bigger picture of the album, making it possible to see some fractured light at the end of this thoroughly dark and distressing journey.

Admittedly, Craig Taylor-Broad's music goes places that most listeners simply wouldn't want to go - and may bring up things in some people that they had hoped not to experience again. The most shocking thing about this material is that, disconcerting as it is, it's still somehow enjoyable to listen to – those who can appreciate good storytelling and songwriting, regardless of the tone of the material, will probably like For the Organs on some level. Hell, I've got to give props to any creative person with the conviction to put something like this out there for the world to gawk at and evaluate. Craig Taylor-Broad may not be trying to be a bona fide rock star, but clearly has a talent for doing what he does. For the Organs is not for everyone – only the adventurous, fearless listener need apply - but I'm calling it an outstanding singular effort that stands with 2015's best.

8.6 / 10Andy

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8.6 / 10

8.6 / 10

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