Gareth Dickson “Orwell Court”
October 25, 2016
Gareth Dickson is ghostlike. From the dark outskirts of Glasgow he has sent three studio studio albums in to the world – Collected Recordings (2009), The Dance (2010) and Quite A Way Away (2012). These albums have bewitched a growing inner circle, including some of the most innovative musicians around today – Juana Molina and Vashti Bunyan to name just two. Gareth has been the only constant member of Vashti’s touring outfit over the past ten years and latterly they have stripped down to a duet on their worldwide travels. Vashti indeed makes a spectral apparition on the first track of Gareth’s new album Orwell Court.
Gareth Dickson’s music is both beautiful and dark. A quiet Scottish melancholy underpinned by a grace and ethereal purity paired with a unique impression where the delicacy of Nick Drake mixes with the openness and space Brian Eno. Gareth’s music is often stripped down to the spare elements of voice and acoustic guitar, but a complex and mysterious music hides beneath the surface, demanding but generous and surprising. Clearly picking up where his previous albums left off, Gareth throws in a few surprises. Gleaned from his time spent touring and experimenting between albums the addition of a drum kit, some keyboards and guest vocalists enrich the palette. But fear not, these elements, while previously unheard of in his music, are approached with the subtlety that his listeners expect. They are a texture that adds dimension throughout the album. The hush is still there in its most genuine form.
In the image of it’s author, on the brink of falling in to juvenille delinqueny, Gareth took a straighter path and ended up on the university trampoline team while studying aerospace engineering. Now he spends his days eating vegan snacks, knows how to choose a good lawyer, and sports his normcore t-shirts on the tennis courts of Glasgow’s Southside. At night he presses his red Doc Martens a little harder on the accelerator of his Rover 75 on highways where they drive on the left. Everything is only a pretext to fuel his visceral need of creation, as attested by his superglued nails cared for as extensions of his guitar. Accuracy and uniqueness are at the heart of his artistic process. He establishes a relationship to time outwith the current mad and superficial pace of our own. His music is a form of modern classicism, by a man constantly aware that perfection lies shrouded in mists of uncertainty and ambiguity. It is above all a question of obsession and atmosphere. And it is a unwaveringly sublime cover of this Joy Division title that closes Orwell Court. Past revisited, and behind that, transcendence.