❉ A touching and quizzical album, from a gent who has long deserved far wider exposure.
Edgar Breau was a key member of Hamilton, Ontario’s psych-prog dreampunkers Simply Saucer, whose seminal recordings from between 1974 and 1979, only ever properly issued at the turn of this century, have long been admired by fans and cheerleaders like Julian Cope and Sonic Youth as ghost-flesh, inchoate precursors – a reverse influence, if you like. Breau has maintained a sometime and below-the-radar music career since then, in recent years setting up Flying Inn Recordings to caretake Saucer’s legacy and to issue new works by alumni. This self-titled album is Breau’s third solo work, and continues his mature musical approach of detourning his younger absurdism into a personal take on the troubadour tradition.
One of Simply Saucer’s touchstones was the early Floyd (the name itself perhaps a giveaway there), and they had a strong sense of the meander and high-summer melancholy of popsike; Breau still retains this impetus, and if his chosen musical form these days is simpler than past hi-jinks, there’s still the sensation of songs seen through smoked glass and the sidelong, windowpane outlook.
Given Breau’s location and heritage, what strikes about this music is its spiritual solidarity with very English precursors like Nick Drake or Robert Wyatt – his voice has a keening fragility in common, and his narratives likewise share an outside-looking-in gloaming. The rustbelt seeps in with the harmonica, the gentle cattlestroll of the drums suggests horizons and sunsets, but in such uncanny songs as He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead or A Penny Fare To Babylon you’re reminded that the Cosmic American once contained a good deal of folky Albion.
Think back to the ethereal distillations of someone like early Van Dyke Parks, performed in the rough – for a more modern equivalent, I hear similarities with the quieter moments of acoustic Mercury Rev. And yet, this is still; unmistakeably the same guy who once sang (and still sings – YouTube will prove) Nazi Apocalypse. A touching and quizzical – most of all, stoutly individual – album, from a gent who has long deserved far wider exposure.
❉ Edgar Breau – Self titled was released by Flying Inn Recordings via Soundcloud, 1 January 2018: https://soundcloud.com/flying-inn-recordings/sets/edgar-breau-self-titled