Review of Home/Hidden Album by Charlie Alex March

In the last three years Charlie Alex March has released two EP's. In his earnest endeavours, and with the unwaveringly committed stubbornness of a perfectionist, Charlie has at last delivered his first full length album, all 31 minutes and 40 seconds of it to be precise. The twelve songs that comprise the 'Home/Hidden' are mini marvels of majestic beauty. Each soundscape that Charlie has conjured up manages to displace reality and transport you, in a moment of brevity, to a resplendent utopia.

Although there are vocal credits, given to Jo Apps, on the album, what you get is ostensibly an instrumental collection. The music is sometimes surreal, quite transcendental but above all original. David Bowie no less, thinks the music 'Delightful'. Lending some fabulously talented hands along the way are Gabriel, from Metronomy, on bass, Andy Ramsey, of Stereolab, on drums and Sean O'Hagan (a previous Stereolab guitarist himself) and Dominic Murcott, both of the High Llamas. The latter pairing are responsible for some stunning string arrangements and joyous vibraphone respectively.

Charlie Alex March Home/Hidden Album

The albums charm comes where the mix of electronic synth synchronises perfectly with the orchestrated strings to produce a mesmerising, harmonious hybrid. If there were a genre label on your I-Pod for Extraterrestrial Chamber Music, Charlie's album would be straight in there. Each lovingly crafted tune has a lightness of touch, an elegance coupled with refinement and an other worldly aura. Prepare yourself for levitation.

The 'songs' range from the Hitchhikers Guide reprise of 'Plan 9' through the 50's info-mercial of 'Mao', replete with typewriter backing, to the 'Night Porter' territory of 'Telephone Song'. There are touches of a more dance oriented nature, 'Cartot No:7', along the way, reminiscent of the more melodic, ethereal parts of The Grid, or Orbital. There is even a fantastic, fully loaded, deep, driven bass synth on 'Melodie' and 'Clouds Over You Again'.

Apparently the French love Charlie. Given the chance you may do too. Hopefully the next 31 minutes of musical magic will not be so long in the making. 'Home/Hidden' is a wonderful oddity waiting to become your chill out album of choice.

Andrew Lockwood.

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