September 2, 2013

Review: Mike Kershaw-This Long Night

I came across Mike Kershaw only a few weeks ago and was extremely impressed by the music samples on the internet, so asked him to send a copy for some airplay and review. The album, This Long Night, duly arrived and did not disappoint in any way. Mike Kershaw previously recorded under the name Relocate to Heathrow from around 2007, although this name didn’t ring any bells at all. In 2011 however, Mike decided to “go for it” and record under his own name and the first release was Reason to Believe (2011) and now, This Long Night (2013).

Mike is a multi-instrumentalist who sang, played and produced everything on Reason to Believe and This Long Night. This Long Night is a 9 track album with a total playing time of around 52 minutes with the title track, track 4, “This Long Night,” the shortest at 1:34 minutes and track 3, “A Kind Of Hell,” the longest at 12:37 minutes. This long track and “Spectres” have already featured on the radio show.

As is becoming the norm with releases at the moment, choosing tracks as highlights from albums under review is becoming difficult due to the superb quality of the music presented, but certainly, “A Kind of Hell,” “Spectres” and “The Fire,” are suitable contenders.

“A Kind of Hell” (12:37) starts with a melodic set of synths and a steady drum rhythm. The synths shift around before entering into a “harp-like” shimmer and into a hand percussive passage. There is a simple “jangly” passage prior to the synths returning to power out a driving melody. Mike’s voice appears over the background which fades down to drums, bass and acoustic guitars, allowing the unique voice to carry the lyric along. The synths move the tempo up around the 3:45 minute mark, when a more insistent drum and guitar passage starts. This continues to power the track along, with a more forceful vocal riding over the top and at this point, I felt that Mike’s voice showed slight hints of two other “unique” voices, that of Michael Chapman (UK singer songwriter from 60’s and still around) and Roger Chapman (lead voice in Family UK band in 60s/70/s, and no relation). The synths continue to wash in and out behind the voice and at around the 6 minute mark, there are a few jagged guitar riffs before the sound drops to acoustic guitar and synths with the hand percussion following, giving a little more bite to the sound. The vocals return behind the melody from the start of the track and remain as the lingering, memorable sound as the track makes its way slowly out. This track is a stunning example of progressive music with shifting backgrounds, rhythm changes, sweeping synths and a voice that has a unique quality carrying clear interesting lyrics.

Track 7, “Spectres” (6:30), enters with a guitar, bass, drums and synth passage before the moment that grabs your attention suddenly appears in the form of a superb piano melody ultimately ushering in the vocals. The piano continues to meander around behind the voice and acts as an “aural anchor” throughout the track. The vocals are again both very clear and interesting and fade about the 2:30 minute point to allow the piano to take the spotlight again with a melody that is both simple and instantly memorable. The other “touchstone” within this track is the extremely catchy chorus which I found myself singing along to as the track progressed. Another excellent track with the synths joining the piano as the end point of the track approaches.

“The Fire” (7:45), has a heavier introduction which draws the listener into the track with a sudden rhythm change just after a minute, with the vocals appearing and leading into a majestic synth melody with synth washes moving here and there in the background. Another rhythm change at around 3:15 minutes heralds the return of “that voice” which carries the track along before giving way to a return of the majestic synth melody, but with the addition of a guitar behind it this time. A descending synth sequence leads to a grittier vocal conveying a different emotional level and ultimately, the instruments fade away leaving the voice to take the track out.

This Long Night is an album that encompasses many twists and turns across the nine tracks. The music can veer from the ultra-simple piano passages, which are stunning, and the more complex passages which are majestic in their power and this occurs not just across tracks, but within individual tracks. This is certainly an album that merits the “One to Buy” sticker on the front and the additional “The Experience will last forever” sticker in the bottom corner. Not content to sit back and bask in the glory of such a superb creation however, Mike has already started work on his third album, Ice Age, which he expects to be released in May 2014, so a reminder has been put in this reviewer’s diary.


Key Tracks: A Kind Of Hell: Spectres: The Fire

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson

September 2, 2013

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