MINOTAUR SHOCK: Amateur Dramatics (4AD)


Posted on Sep 19th 2008 12:31 am

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Minotaur Shock: Amateur Dramatics

Amateur Dramatics
4AD 2008
11 Tracks. 51mins02secs

On his website, David Edwards, the brain behind Minotaur Shock, talks about how his record company, the seminal and glorious 4AD, took the decision to only release his third album as a digital format. Not unfortunately unusual these days. This certainly raises once again the question of music as an artefact against music as a product. An equation that Edwards has, past the initial deception of not seeing his work released in physical format, happily taken on and on which he has applied his own angle. The eleven tracks of the album are all available to download individually, and carry a suggested selling price established according to a range of criteria, from technical difficulty or computer crash to extra musicians and fun ratings, with a price range going from 33p for the cheapest track to 77p for the dearest.

David Edwards appeared in 2000 on Manchester’s Melodic, for which he released an album and a handful of EPs which were later collected on Rinse. While he was originally labelled by many as folktonica, Edwards’s music progressively moved away from the acoustic undertones of his debut to incorporate poppier moods on his 4AD debut, Maritime, published in 2005. Carved out of earthy sounds and cut into miniature epic vignettes, Amateur Dramatics follows a similar path. The delicate formations of the early days have been replaced by more confident and varied sonic spaces, arranged into predominantly wordless pop songs which roll off catchy hooks straight into devastatingly spectacular choruses. A notable exception to this is the rather wonderful This Plane Is Going To Fall, with its recurring themes and sweet and sour female vocals, which provides one of the most enchanting moments of the record. And at 66p, it is quite a bargain!

Edwards has used a wide array of acoustic instruments in the past, but for this latest venture, he has turned his attention to a string quartet, which appears pretty much throughout, at times only barely audible in the background, at others exposed for all to contemplate. Placed against Edwards’s increasingly electronic backdrops, this often surprises and catches the attention unaware. This is the case on the at times hectic bopping Accelerated Footage, where the ensemble seems to be holding the piece together, preventing any chaotic assault from threatening the integrity of the piece. It is a very different picture that Edwards paint on the gentle Two Magpies and the more upbeat My Burr, where the strings and electronics form a surprisingly coherent all and turn the tracks into superb little gems. On AmDram and Jason Forrest, Edwards swap string quartet for the more upfront sound of a brass band, while éclats of electric guitar lodge themselves in some of the most upfront and extrovert moments, especially on the rocking Buzzards near the end of the record.

With this third proper album, David Edwards does what he does best, that is create surprisingly catchy and evocative little pop songs. The sound on Amateur Dramatics is somewhat more ambitious than in previous releases, but Edwards keep it all at a very human scale and retains a level of naivety that is rarely encountered in electronic music, and for that alone, Minotaur Shock should be treasured.


Minotaur Shock | 4AD
Buy: iTunes

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One Response to “MINOTAUR SHOCK: Amateur Dramatics (4AD)”

  1. […] a stint on 4AD, for which is recorded two albums, the second of which, Amateur Dramatics (2008), never received a full UK release, although it was eventually picked up by Audio Dregs in […]