new release: dunkie "the vanishing and other stories"
When dunkie approached me to ask if I could have a listen to his new EP, I must say that I was a little apprehensive. I recalled the incredible album released in 2019, Working To Design, 17 tracks that perfectly combined evocative music and heartfelt lyrics to tell everyday stories of love, loss, life and death. I remember thinking at the time, it would be impossible for dunkie to achieve this level of quality again but, I am delighted to say, lightning really can strike twice!
The Vanishing And Other Stories is a collection of five new songs, each crafted to perfection, as we have come to expect. As was the case with Working To Design, we see dunkie, aka Anthony Price, team up with long term collaborator, musician and producer Wayne Bassett, creating a 50/50 Lennon/McCartney approach to songwriting. Also calling upon the assistance of a team of guest vocalists and musicians, the project is once again accompanied by artwork from the critically acclaimed figurative artist, Michael Gustavius Payne.
Of the EP, dunkie writes "Reminiscent of 1950's & 1960's short story anthologies, collected together in the world of Corgi and Penguin paperbacks, we've aimed to create a similar aesthetic with this EP. These songs/stories are grounded in the mundane yet heightened by a haunting, terrifying and sometimes surreal reality that surrounds us, present with despair for human lives, searching for hope in humanity and our own existence within it. Standalone stories, that exist in the same storytelling world we write."
The EP opens with The Vanishing, a beautiful reintroduction to Anthony Price's unique voice which has a delicate style that draws you entirely into the song. A moving story of isolation, contemplating the notion that any one of us could disappear at any point - but would we ever be missed, would anyone notice our vanishing? Musically, the sound builds from a solitary guitar to massive wall of sound, with piercing guitar riffs and haunting vocals and pianos colouring in any space that might be found. This is in contrast with Shadows On The Sun, a more up-tempo folk rock song with even more excellent guitar work, boosted by Price's vocals to create a perfectly rounded tune.
The third track, Choke, takes the EP in a completely different direction. It features beautiful, ethereal vocals from Mali Davies, intertwined with flute and minimalist orchestration, painting an image of someone facing their impending death with a powerful yet soothing soundscape. A fascinating, hypnotic song.
Complimenting vocals from Mark Purnell and Sarah Birch, combined with a lamenting, solitary violin gives Deep Dark Heart a folk-country feel. It's a tender exchange between lovers who have drifted apart, with doubts creeping into the relationship that bubble under the surface.
The song starts with a simplistic electric piano but a complete tempo switch takes the song into a different direction altogether.
The final track on the EP is The Vanishing Shadow, which features vocals from Lauren Coates. The delicate vocal style that Lauren brings match perfectly with the minimalistic music track that builds with the softest synths and strings but has echoes of Price's "nobody sees me" line from the first track, which seems to tie the whole project together with a neat little touch. It's perhaps testament to the songwriting talents of Price and Bassett that Lauren was involved in the project at all; her videos of cover versions of Queen songs were stumbled upon via YouTube, an approach was made by the team and the rest, as they say, is history.
Those who purchase the EP on Bandcamp are treated to a bonus track, which is an alternative version of The Vanishing, a far more stripped back showing, filled with delicate synths and guitar work. You'll also receive a series of complimentary works of art by Michael Gustavius Payne.
Altogether, I have to say that any reservations I had about whether this EP could ever be as good as Working To Design were quickly blown away. With The Vanishing And Other Stories, Price and Bassett have created a piece of art that will delight lovers of alt folk but will also raise an impressed eyebrow of anyone who appreciates the delicate weaving together of a tapestry of sounds that together form a musical masterpiece.
Before I conclude, something that Anthony Price has always stressed with his music is that the whole thing is a collaborative effort and without the team of musicians, vocalists and songwriters, this EP could never have been completed. For that reason, he would like to express his sincere thanks to John Barnes, Adam Price, Gareth Anthony, Rob Lear, Rob Morris, Jennifer Drew, Stephen Drake, Mali Davies, Terry Payne, Mark Purnell, Sarah Birch, Joanne Jones , Lauren Coates and particularly to Wayne Bassett and Michael Gustavius Payne.
I would highly recommend that you grab a chilled glass of your favourite tipple, close your eyes and let this gem of an EP wash over you.