Derby-based multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker James Machin, aka Grawl!x, has written and recorded a delicate, melodic album, concluding his trilogy on grief. At times reminiscent of Bon Iver, Badly Drawn Boy and at others Icelandic artist sóley, Machin’s music, instrumental and beautifully dainty, gauzy, it feels like real treat and a privilege to listen in to Grawl!x’s third album. Heavy with pathos and melancholy, it is however, a struggle to find this for the layers of melody.
Appendix was his next after 2014 debut Good Grief and 2016 follow-up Aye! Originally supposed to be a piano-only record, it obviously grew arms and legs as the wondrous instrumental layers has culminated a more ambitious sound. Working with TV and film composer Richard J. Birkin, who had also contributed to the album Good Grief, there is a much more cinematic sound to this album than obviously first envisioned. A full LP with a string quartet, Birkin agreed to compose and conduct the string arrangements on the album, and the LP is so much more for being more than just stripped down piano.
Derbyshire trio and wonders Haiku Salut, have also added their own unique mystical aural landscape, performing accordion, vibraphone & trumpet respectively and singing as part of the choir which reoccurs throughout the album, but particularly on Trawpse and Apricity. Between Machin, Birkin and Haiku and Salut, Appendix has a sensational sound, with this culmination of talent.
Unsurprisingly, alongside the album is the release of short film Fleeting, which is written and directed by Grawl!x and featuring music from Appendix, as the OST. Incorporating string as well as the variety of instruments that come with the trio from Derbyshire, the music expectedly fits the big screen, majestically filling us with emotion, both happy and sad. The film premiered at QUAD in Derby in November 2017 and is now available online. It would be quite something in fact to witness a live rendition of this album to the film.
A record, swamped, in fact, dripping with emotion, I could listen to this time and time again, with some of my favourite references plainly there.
Appendix was released via Reckless Yes Records.