Release Date: May 12, 2014
Record label: Harvest
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Nick Mulvey‘s debut solo album may not be quite what you expect. It’s very likely, however, that you didn’t quite know what to expect – after all, Mulvey made his name in the critically adored, Mercury nominated jazz group Portico Quartet playing the Hang, a Swiss percussive instrument. And, while there’s undoubtedly an album to made featuring free-form instrumentals and intense drum solos, this thankfully is not that album.
When he was in experimental jazz types the Portico Quartet, Nick Mulvey played a hang drum, an instrument resembling a giant wok played with knitting needles. He's not the most obvious candidate to jack it all in to become a singer-songwriter troubadour, but his beguiling debut is hardly straightforward. Although the beautifully pensive songs are steeped in the likes of Nick Drake, Paul Simon and John Martyn, they're informed by the 28-year-old Mulvey's studies in ethnomusicology (African and oriental sounds) and Cuban music.
Former Portico Quartet Hang-er (!?) Nick Mulvey caused quite the ruckus at the beginning of this year, during the annual Ones To Watch debacle across t’internet – the BBC in particular tipped him, longlisting him for the Sound Of 2014 (which was eventually snapped up by Sam Smith). With great expectations comes great responsibility, but Mulvey has resisted the hype vortex thus far, preferring to work at his own pace and let his music do the talking. A smattering of EPs have dripped out since 2012, not ever really breaking forth and cementing Mulvey as a genuine contender in the hearts of the general public, but with his first solo full-length on the way, and the backing of the BBC, that’s almost certainly going to change.
The debut album from former Portico Quartet percussionist and Hang player Nick Mulvey is a worldly affair that gives the impression of a musician far more established and further on in his career than the Cambridge-born artist. This may be due to his involvement in the Mercury-nominated Portico Quartet, or the trickle of releases that have appeared since his nomination to the BBC Sound of 2014 long list, but it is most likely down to the Ethnomusicology degree he obtained at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the years he spent immersing himself in the musical cultures of Brazil, Cuba, and Morocco. This wealth of experience and breadth of learning is transitioned here into dense and playful guitar work and absorbing, innovative rhythms.
Ahead of this year's Mercury prize, DiS in partnership with Naim Audio's new wireless music system, mu-so, will help you GoDeeper into 2014's nominated albums. Today, we would like to turn your attention to Nick Mulvey, by reviewing his album which was released back in May... For our special Mercury competition and coverage of all of this year's nominees visit our Mercury Prize 2014 mini-site.