Death – Grand Salvo
By Aidan Roberts
Here is a curious and noble idea in this digital era: a narrated concept album, concerning the fates of three forest animals and a human hunter, revolving around various events leading to their deaths, blending camp-fire folksongs with fully orchestrated, Britten-esque instrumental passages. Sounds risky, but this experimental project from Melbourne’s Grand Salvo (Paddy Mann) is really quite beguiling and refreshing. Paddy’s cascading nylon-string guitar and hushed melodies become the voice of all these characters, both musically and lyrically, and the listener is propelled through an abstract musical book of nursery rhymes. The album is narrated by Mann’s father, an unexpected touch and surprisingly devoid of twee or obvious overtones. The songs themselves are meticulously composed; Shalem Relagh brings us the hunter’s prologue, lilting and heartbreaking from the outset. Lyrical and melodic highlights are the weeping I Am Dead, and Hunter’s Remorse. The Victorian Arts funding shows in the elaborate orchestral offerings throughout, making this a dedicated and complete effort of the imagination. Takes a few listens, but there is wonder in Death.