Daniel Cavanagh
Monochrome


4.0
excellent

Review

by DoofusWainwright CONTRIBUTOR (91 Reviews)
October 14th, 2017 | 44 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Quiet Enigma

The 'solo album on the side' is a strange affair, far too often you're left scratching your head as the material on offer is quite obviously a shade weaker than that of the parent band, or if not it’ll adhere so closely to the style of the artist's day job you wonder why they didn't just release it under that banner. Surely the point is to put across something new, show a unique musical perspective, lay that soul bare. An initial spin of Daniel Cavanagh's first solo album proper, 'Monochrome', will be enough to convince listeners there's no issue concerning quality control here. In terms of addressing whether this is enough of a departure from his usual song writing as part of Anathema, well you might have to live with the album a little longer, but given time it should soon become obvious that what we're dealing with here is something quite unique, special even.

'Monochrome' starts inauspiciously with a slow and subtle build, a lonely piano melody and Daniel's warm toned voice that are joined by some acoustic strumming at the 1:30 mark. So far, so very Anathema you might be thinking. What marks this song out as different to the recent output of that band is that the song retains something reflective and leisurely in its performance throughout; that intro fired the same starting gun but the response couldn't be more different, Danny's not interested in taking part in any sort of race today. As you relax into the emotive guitar solo that closes out the song in slow motion splendour perhaps it's a good time to glance down at the runtimes for the tracks that make up the rest of the album; sure enough, three songs break the 7:30 barrier, this is a pace that's going to remain throughout proceedings.

What Cavanagh’s chosen to do here is reject nu-Anathema's continuous quest for intensity and instead focus on ramping up the atmospherics, setting up a perfect framework to showcase his own intimately emotional performances. There's a subtlety here that harks back to the 'Judgment' era, or perhaps the more reflective 'Hindsight' cover versions, and it's a style that brings out the nuance in both his playing and, most importantly, his singing. It must be strange for a performer with such an arresting voice only getting third place billing in their main gig. On 'Monochrome' Daniel's allowed to take centre stage and his far less flashy vocal style is a revelation in terms of the emotion it conveys; unlike Anathema, who have landed somewhere now where delivery is always pristine, the fact here Daniel's chosen to leave in some glorious imperfections is to be celebrated. Sometimes his enunciation isn't dead on, or his voice breaks or falters, and in that small moment a song goes from great to godly.

Another of Cavanagh's undervalued talents is on full dispay here too, and that's his piano playing. Again, understated performance is the order of the day, you won’t find a plethora of jazz frills in this music, but in terms of conveying atmosphere and setting a pensive tone his work is devastatingly effective. The outstanding album centrepiece 'The Silent Flight of the Raven Winged Hours' keeps the piano the key instrument for the lion's share of its duration, the undulating melodies helping to create a truly mesmeric experience. When Cavanagh finally lets the passion spill over at the 7:40 mark as pounding single drum hits and exotic string swells rise up from the deep the result is something close to transcendent. Where Daniel shows a killer instinct for album craft is when he follows this song with the shortest track, the sprightly 'Dawn' that combines finger picking Lindsey Buckingham would be proud of with Irish folk instrumentation.

Another smart move was bringing in a female vocal counterpart, but choosing to pass on Anathema bandmate Lee Douglas and plumping for Anneke Van Giersbergen of The Gathering fame instead. While she's not as much of an all-out belter as Douglas, again her voice betrays some frailties that suit the feel of ‘Monochrome’ that much more and mesh with Danny's own singing style perfectly. Her star turn is on the most nu-Anathema sounding song on the album, the symphonic 'Soho', her angelic tones finally being swallowed up by this album’s one moment of truly epic orchestral crescendo abandon.

In a year when both Anathema and Steven Wilson have released high profile albums in the prog pop sphere there's a fear this low key outing might get overlooked, and that'd be a shame because this heartfelt document revels in a sort of simplicity of writing and spirit that's all too rare. Returning full circle to that show stopping opener, 'The Exorcist', Daniel alleges that upon hearing him play the song his band mates insisted it was the sort of track they could easily base an entire Anathema album around. He made the tough call, it couldn't have been easy, but the surprising 'Monochrome' proves he was right to make it. Cavanagh's succeeded in laying his very soul bare here and surely that's something worth persevering over.



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user ratings (34)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Doof still likes music who knew.



Cheesy album though.

Digging: Cathal Coughlan - The Sky's Awful Blue

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2017


3344 Comments


Is the album cover depicting him constipated?

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No, it reflects the universal plight of constipation in all of us

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2017


3344 Comments


Deep.

DarkNoctus
October 14th 2017


10070 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i couldn't stand this, the exorcist sounded like drunk karaoke and the whole album just sounds cheesy and whiny.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheese and whine is an ageless combo

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 14th 2017


39403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

better than any Anathema in years

Digging: The Used - The Canyon

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed

ChaoticVortex
October 14th 2017


496 Comments


Love Anathema, so I'm definitely interested in this. The single I've hear so far was great, just the right ammount of melancholy and cheese.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 15th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ranked/Rated:

1. The Silent Flight of the Raven Winged Hours [5]

2. The Exorcist [5]

3. Soho [4.5]

4. Oceans of Time [4.5]

5. Dawn [4]

6. Some Dreams Come True [3.5]

7. This Music [3.5]

OmairSh
October 15th 2017


14338 Comments


Need to check this

Flugmorph
October 16th 2017


17436 Comments


who wouldve thought that this was like a stripped down version of anathema

everyone

ok it rawrs tho


Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 16th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Better for being more stripped down.



Also, the instrumental passages are compositionally more ambitious.



That’s what they call a ‘win win’

Flugmorph
October 16th 2017


17436 Comments


ye i havent been that big on anathemas recent material so this is a breath of fresh air

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 16th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, it's refreshing in that context. 100% exactly what I wanted this to be.

Dewinged
October 17th 2017


6375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

On the second track now. I already know I am gonna love this.



Edit: Anneke just came in and I am listening to a new The Gathering now, omfg.



Love you for reviewing this Doofus, beautifully done.

Digging: Motorpsycho - The Tower

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers Dewi, hoped this album would get a bit more attention.



In my heart this is more the direction I want Anathema to head - a little less bombastic, a bit more natural emotion

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also, ‘This Music’ has grown on me - the last song is the weakest thing here, though still more than pleasant

TwigTW
October 17th 2017


2782 Comments


Almost missed this... first listen, sounds great.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2017


16375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's a subtle little gem Twig...but it'll be in the shake up for my favourites of the year.



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