Robert Mitchell’s True Think – Hold The Light and The New Resistance
(Bucks Records Ltd. 2CD set. Album review by Tony Dudley-Evans)
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Robert Mitchell must be one of the most versatile musicians playing in Britain; he performs solo, with his Panacea group, in a trio with Neil Charles and Mark Sanders and in other contexts too numerous to list. He has also published poetry collections, and teaches at both Guildhall and Leeds Conservatoire.
Mitchell has said of this double album that he wanted to use the various keyboards he owns rather than an acoustic piano, and to use these keyboards in a deliberately electronic approach. The CD also features a long and impressive list of guest artists all of whom Mitchell has worked with at some point in his career. These include Becca Stevens, Omar, Ty, Carleen Anderson, Deborah Jordan and Xan Blacq. The core group is vocalist Liselotte Östblom, multi-instrumentalist Zayn Mohammed, Tom Mason on bass, and Saleem Raman on drums and percussion. The album was developed over several years with the guests recording during the pandemic in their own studios.
In fact, Mitchell has produced an important and innovative album; he has drawn on the current wave of contemporary vocal music and spoken word that is difficult to define, but draws on soul music, RnB, hip hop, and sound system culture as well as jazz, and built around the vocals an ambient electronic environment that draws on similar sources. The writing and the approach brings all these elements together to create a cohesive and satisfying double album
A number of tracks also present narrative and poetry often concerned with socio-economic issues. For example, Stop Crawling presents a narrative on social issues spoken by Gillian and Gordon Wedderburn with an ambient musical backing. There are poems delivered by Mitchell himself, Electric Scythe, or declaimed in Gil Scott Heron style by Ty on Why?, a narrative with the title Dawn delivered by then 8-year old Alice Mitchell, Robert’s daughter.
A particularly attractive track is Pre-Dawn, a poem delivered in Japanese, Swedish, Zulu, Urdu and English by native speakers of those languages with each speaker weaving in and out of the others in each language.
The vocal tracks are presented in an electronic setting, and this often creates an air of mystery, Becca Stevens’ track Inner Sanctum is a case in point, as is Epiphany sung bySharlene-Monique. Other tracks, such as In The Air sung by Deborah Jordan and Xan Blacq and What You Say performed by Liselotte Östblom are more upbeat.
The poem Cumulus Dissolving delivered by Mitchell leads into the City of Sanctuary track which has a Middle Eastern feel with Zayn Mohammed playing the oud.
Robert Mitchell has created an innovative but also accessible set of material in this album. It captures very successfully various elements of the current contemporary British music scene.
Categories: Album reviews