The idea sparked when folk singer Paddy Mann (Grand Salvo) and Australian Art Orchestra trumpeter, Peter Knight, discovered they both wanted to merge abstract musical expression with more direct forms like singing. Three years and many collaborative sessions on, their wishes were fulfilled. The pensive fragility of Mann’s voice drifts in and out of arrangements bent on either hypnotising or haunting you. He sings of a daughter’s “fierce” fever – “It burned in her cheeks / And soaked in her sheets” – her bygone ailment staining the songs a melancholic sepia.
In a time when production makes anything possible, this record reminds you what rich inner worlds can be summoned without it. There is electronic shading here but it never diminishes the record’s tangibility. With its Krautrock beat, care of drummer Joe Talia, ‘The Dark Room’ is as anchored as these airy yet psychically suffocating compositions get. Vanessa Tomlinson and Andrew Brooks (saxophone) round out the rare chemistry.