Nick Drake and John Cale fans rejoice, for Gareth Dickson has sallied forth to open a backdoor portal to a time of jaded innocence and sweetly sonorous ennui. Otherwise Vashti Bunyan's main live accompanist, Dickson decided to solo gig around Europe in 2012: just him, his guitar, and a few doo-dads. Invisible String is the result, a compendium of softly ringing songs delivered as though Nick were humbly stepping back in from The Great Beyond, surprised his post-mortem fame has reached such epic proportions, smiling gently that his tortured life had a positive effect after all. Dickson's every note rings true with the departed luminary's spirit and gauzy light, delicate vocals wafting seraphically through clouds and mist, the very essence of gentility infused with a wispy pastel Byronism.
I mention John Cale for a number of reasons. First of all, Nick was absolutely awed by the mutable Velvet Underground alumnus and for good reason. Secondly because John, and not Lou Reed, was the truest genius behind the V.U., and what Nick put forth was gleaned through a combination of his own unique artistry as tempered by what he adapted from Cale and his contributions to the Velvs, albeit oft a bit obscurely. Cale, as devotees have known, was capable of a wide variety of sounds, from brash (Pablo Picasso) to lunatic (Fear and Heartbreak Hotel) to mellifluous (there are quite a few pensive numbers), but he also contributed grace and delicacy to a couple of cuts on Drake's Bryter Later. Dickson has nailed that period in its essence, and the entirety of Invisible String is like a sifting of lost treasure, lofting it back aboveground.
There may be 17 cuts to the CD, but the segments are really episodes in a whole, threads weaving through cloth and fairy dust to draw together a susurrus fabric that presses no demands, just quietly entices as it soothes and narcotizes. From the evidences of the live recording, I'm guessing the crowd was small though the hall appears to be somewhat spacious; to have appeared otherwise likely would've sacrificed too much in terms of spontaneity, ambience, and crowd/performer interaction. The result is almost like a gathering at Drake's grave to celebrate life and art, perhaps even crossing over to the other side the love the tragically afflicted young gent never was able to experience in life, as well as the knowledge that his short pained existence turned out to be vastly more influential than anyone could have guessed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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