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Marc Carlton - Bridge (with Kate Toft) CD (album) cover


Marc Carlton


Crossover Prog

3.91 | 3 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Fourth bridge? Fifth really!

Marc Carlton is exclusively a solo writer and performer. All his releases to date have been instrumental albums on which he has been composer, musician, producer and technician. In 2006 however, he collaborated on this album with his partner Kate Toft under the name Bridge. This album thus sits between Carlton's "Still" and "Ofriah" releases. Uniquely for this album in addition to his guitar and keyboards contributions, Carlton also sings. The lyrics however come from Toft's poetry throughout. Toft is highly talented in her own right, being a poet, singer and multi-instrumentalist.

In terms of the musical content, it would be easy to simply describe it as a Marc Carlton album with vocals, for that is essentially what it is. The vocals do though make a big difference in terms of accessibility and perhaps commercial appeal. Listening to the opening "Origin", Carlton's voice is reminiscent of Mike Hugg or Mike Batt, being atmospheric rather than operatic. This shorter introductory track is largely reflective, with symphonic string synth backing the main vocal.

"Theatre rain" sees us gently drifting in to a more upbeat light instrumental with musical box type keyboards. This serves as an introduction to the longest track on the album, the 10+ minute "Wave to me". Here we come upon the delicate tones of Kate Toft's vocals for the first time. Her voice is similar in tone to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins, the sparse arrangement here placing her vocals well to the fore. The track has something of a folk feel to it, with acoustic guitar dominating instrumentally.

"Impasse" returns us to the ambient instrumental moods which prevail in much of Carlton's work, synth being the main instrument of choice. The track segues seamlessly into "No time", where Toft returns with a more orthodox melodic song. This 7 minute piece gradually builds and develops throughout, while retaining a largely straightforward melody.

At about 9 minutes, "Colour" is the second of the feature tracks on the album. Initially, this piece is one of Marc's most abstract numbers, with Floydian lead guitar played over waves of ambient sound. "Alliances" is a stripped back solo piece by Carlton, featuring only his dulcet tones and acoustic guitar. The song is Tim Buckley like in its inherent simplicity.

Marc moves to piano for the barely audible fragility that is "Spent", a beautifully reflective solo. The song "My last breath" comes from Marc's "Far tide" project, the acoustic version here consisting simply of acoustic guitar plus vocals by Kate Toft. The album concludes with the brief "Kokoromachi", a further acoustic piece with soft vocalising by Toft.

While this may not strictly speaking be a part of Marc Carlton's solo discography, "Bridge" is an important component of his output. Here he offers a unique opportunity to enjoy his music complemented by vocals. Those vocal are far from intrusive, and the album remains largely instrumental. Those who have discovered Carlton's albums such as "Still" and "Reflex arc" will also find this album rewarding.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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