In an age of Spotify-led on the spot gratification, there’s one thing pleasingly bloody-minded about Richard Dawson’s determination to start his seventh album with the 41-minute The Hermit. It feels extra assertion than music, a suspicion that’s backed up by the actual fact it has an accompanying brief movie, to be proven at chosen cinemas. Up to now, so Michael Jackson’s Thriller. And but it’s curiously underwhelming, a full 11 minutes of instrumental noodling drifting by earlier than Dawson’s voice seems. There are additional twists and turns however little in the way in which of pleasure throughout the marginally leaden the rest, and it feels extra like an achievement to admire than one thing to like.
It’s a disgrace that it casts such an extended shadow over the remainder of the in any other case satisfying The Ruby Cord, the ultimate a part of a trilogy that started with the medieval-themed Peasant (2017) and continued with the good sequence of state-of-the-nation snapshots that was 2020. This time the setting is an immersive metaverse of the longer term – the poignant Museum appears to be like again on humanity in all its range (“throngs of cheering soccer followers, a physician crying alone”), a dozen centuries after folks have turn into extinct, and builds to a stunning climax that lightly echoes the closing riff to the Horrors’ Sea Inside a Sea.
As with a lot of his most interesting work, The Idiot finds Dawson combining the muscularity of his music with the fragility of his quavering voice to powerfully transferring impact. There’s sufficient good materials right here for this to have been a superb 40-minute album; as it’s, it’s a flawed 80-minute one.