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Harry Stafford & Marco Butcher - We Are The Perilous Men (Black Lagoon Records)

8 July 2024

Although I’m very late to the party, I’ve been enjoying the music of Harry Stafford for several years. He not only writes great songs but also walks in the sonic shadows. Not in the way that so many goth bands of yore claimed to do, but instead he stands in the shade created by more obvious and commercial-minded ventures blocking out the sun, and here he finds more interesting musical experiments to perform. It would be easy to head down more straightforward pop and rock paths, but where is the fun in that?

No, Harry’s skill lies in his ability to write addictive melodies and accessible songs whilst embracing the real darkness found in sludgy-pop and apocalyptic blues, murder ballads and deft post-punkery, Waitsian vaudeville and warped jazz-scapes. And it is hard to think of another artist who shares such dark visions and expresses them so brilliantly. Actually, only one springs to mind, so it is only natural that we find Harry making music in his company.

Between Harry’s songwriting and the additional sonics from the aforementioned Brazilian punk blues guitarist Marco Butcher We Are The Perilous Men is a dark and delicious, warped and wonderful experience. Fans of the likes of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and even Leonard Cohen will find lots to love here.

From the opening sautering strut of “Love Among The Spectres” to the very apt and delicious wordplay of the chugging and claustrophobic “On the Edge of Music” and from the clattering beats and sonic blasts of “Rules of The House” to the strange, tick-tock rhythms of “Faces in Your World,” this is a mercurial sonic journey.

If you are bored with modern music (and if not then you probably haven’t been listening hard enough or at least are too easily pleased). If you find pop unadventurous, that rock has turned to cliche, blues full of bombastic be-suited showoffs and gothic music a joke, you are probably ready for a bit of Harry Stafford and Marco Butcher in your lives. Better still, a lot. They make music that rights wrongs, that opens doors to unknown destinations, blends together music styles you didn’t think should have any business in each others company and asks more questions than it answers. It’s the music you didn’t realise you needed, but once embraced, there really is no going back to the mediocrity and mundanity of the modern musical world. Not that I’ve tried but trust me, I’m a music journalist!

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