Sugar drum ‘1 of 1’ / ‘absence of friends’ (self released). Apologies are indeed due on this occasion, in fact we couldn’t apologise enough as this re-affirms any notion that you may have had that we are work shy fops – indeed on this occasion we have even managed to exceed in disappointing ourselves at such an oversight. Okay here’s the root of all the fuss. 2 CD’s are sent to us last year – and when I say last year I don’t mean the tail end – I mean last year – 12 months ago – okay. Said CD’s are played and loved at the time but due to one thing or another no write up is forthcoming, handwritten notes are made with a view to said typed appraisal. Alas CD’s go wandering as do the handwritten notes (to date the notes still haven’t been found). An occasional recent spring clean unearths said discs. Now we are in a quandary. Do we casually ignore them because lets face it 12 months to do a write up is like – taking the piss. Or do we brace ourselves, keep our integrity in tact and bugger it – go with a ‘we are only human after all’ plea and hope our fawning apology will be accepted. Honesty they say is the best policy and anyway with tunes of this calibre – frankly we’d have had sleepless nights suffering with guilt if we didn’t somehow make amends. So there you go – that’s the reasons out of the way. Sugardrum is better known to family and friends as musician Nigel Bunner who from out of his leafy Surbiton based bunker crafts daydreaming slices of drifting carefree acoustic pop bathed in both intimate and tender sparkles of quietly assuming grace whilst dashed delicately with a becoming pop fluency. Two EP’s feature here – ‘1 of 1’ is the more considered of the pair in comparison to ‘absence of friends‘ an admittedly neutered affair that is until ‘aunt agony‘ manages to loom into vision braided by the lilting rustic florets and the caressing interweave of boy / girl vocals you can imagine this being a truly sumptuous affair if it were treated to the lush symphonic arrangements as applied by Kirby to Drake . Accompanied by guitar and cello this four track set assumes a more noire-ish glow, beautifully crafted liberally dashed with tumbling cascades and delicate dustings of bitterly sweet sugar rushes with tracks such as the melancholically introspective ’1 of 1’ and the dauntingly elegant ’easily pleased’ hinting at a blossoming talent on the rise and its to the ’absence of friends’ set that that very talent comes into full view, featuring 5 cuts (there’s an unaccredited version of ’new york, new york’ tagged to the end – a ghostly, graceful and gorgeous thing succulently pierced with a mellowing majesty more typical of a latter career Paddy McAloon). The set opens with the frail and fragile ’motorway song’ a beautifully conceived slice of drift pop peppered by accordions that imagines a heaven bound spectral collision of Dream Academy and the Go Betweens yet its from ’limbo’ on that Bunner’s confidence, stature and demurring song craft comes into being, this church like beauty equipped with hushed vocals and the lull of watery guitars is a gorgeously laid back life affirming pop portrait that emerges from its initial fog bound haze into a quietly majestic and measured aching love note. ’Absence of friends’ the title track is without doubt the jewel in the crown, flighty pastoral florets, vocals a la Tim Buckley and a stately fragile persona make this a touching gem in the making, the shy eyed undulating craftsmanship giving way to the sumptuous moments of flowering vibrancy of the beautifully conceived bouquets of Nick Drake like thoughtfulness. ’sleepwalk’ rounds up what is an eloquent and elegant set – upon a bed of flickering celestial mirages and pillows of heaven crested chorus’ this intimate beauty albeit exasperatingly brief is a sweetly coated moment of faraway rustic bliss.

september 2008

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