Bedroom Community broadens the scope with En Garde by Puzzle Muteson, a mysterious, intimate record by a fearless songwriter and lyricist from the windswept Isle of Wight.
Arranged and produced by collaborators and labelmates Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurðsson, En Garde is a strange, comforting and alarmingly personal record. Driven, spare lyrics are hoisted high by vocals of steady, sturdy tremble. Each tune swells with plush guitar pluck in a sea of orchestration and electronics. Recorded in the Greenhouse Studios in Iceland, the album collects Puzzle Muteson’s odd and beautiful stories - about love and horses; rust and polar bears; heartbreak and birds.
Puzzle’s songs are curious sounds from a troubled heart and his lyrics are urgent and open, striking a note with their vulnerable memories. “I Was Once A Horse” is an unforgettable song about nostalgia. The first single and title track, “En Garde”, pits Puzzle’s longing against waves of dense strings and jagged rhythm, while “Perspex Disguise” sets his naked, translucent vocals against shimmering piano that refracts off epic chords. In “Flamingo Head” he sings; “I left your house. You let me. I left you ugly”, buffeted by guitar and distant murmurs. “Not a single thing could take this magical sight. I’ll find you still”, he sings in “Medusa”, the story of a man tracking down a lost love.
En Garde takes an unexpected and unique voice and elevates it out of any easily discernible pocket. Puzzle Muteson could be “folk” or something completely different - instead he’s an intense stranger from the Isle of Wight - at once both familiar and unfamiliar. En Garde heralds a haunting and essential new voice, beautiful, earned and yearning.
released June 6, 2011
Music and lyrics written by Terry Magson.
Produced and mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson
vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
piano, harmonium, Rhodes
bass, percussion, synthesizer, programming, Rhodes
String and wind arrangements written and conducted by Nico Muhly
Violin: Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, Zbigniew Dubik, Pálína Árnadóttir, Dóra Björgvinsdóttir, Bryndís Pálsdóttir.
Viola: Nadia Sirota.
Cello: Margrét Árnadóttir, Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir, Lovísa Fjeldsted.
Trombone: Helgi Jónsson, Jessica Buzbee, Sigurður Þórbergsson.
Bassoon: Rebekka Bryndís Björnsdóttir.
Harp: Katie Buckley
Additional vocals on Medusa: Helgi Jónsson
Engineered by Dan Bora and Valgeir Sigurðsson.
Recorded at Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavík
Studio manager: Sturla Mio Þórisson.
Studio assistant: Paul Evans
Interns: Clément Lemennicier, Jérémy Joseph Vachet.
Mastered by Valgeir Sigurðsson
Art Direction and Design by Chris Bigg (based on an original concept by T. Magson)
Photography by Marc Atkins - www.panoptika.net
This is a Bedroom Community Record