Technology will make us better

by Julian Gaskell

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Recorded in 2005, here are some reviews...

www.manchestermusic.co.uk TECHNOLOGY WILL MAKE US BETTER :: Julian Gaskell :: 22 May 2006 / Promo / CD Album By Lauren Strain
Creak. Rattle. waaaaaiiinnnngongongogogogong. Welcome to the whispery, hoarsely-hollered world of Julian Gaskell, who pronounces all his rounded vowels as though he's got a throat chock full of bitter molasses mixed with Marmite and is attempting not to gip. Pulsing, thrusting, scratchy guitars and scrapes of slithering mandolin ebb and surge dramatically - hungrily - throughout seventeen tracks, whilst squelches of saliva and leering consonants scuttle about above. From the creepy wink of 'Learn From Your Mistakes', in which ghostly black spiders scramble at cracks in the walls and floorboards moan, where the innards and guts of ancient clocks spill out onto the floor, to 'The Sweet, Sweet Smell of Decay', where yellowing crumbs of plaster peel, of their own accord, from the bricks of a deserted old room locked away at the back of a derelict country mansion, you slowly begin to build a picture of Gaskell as a murky nomad, hunched over a withering book, gruffly reading to an ominous melody. Somewhere, by the dripping moonlight seeping in through fogged-up, muck-coated grey windows, blasted by the moors, his face furry with isolated weeks of stubble and his voice aching yet warm like a willowing candle, he crouches, spirit-like, on a moth-eaten, garish, ruined old sofa - some thrown-out throwback from a bygone era - plagued with rubbed patches of faded, threadbare material and pitted with holes chewed through by generations of rats. A bit spooky, yes? Yes. But in the best of archaic, somehow-comforting ways. All shaky corridors and drunken harmonicas, 'Technology Will Make Us Better' was recorded in Falmouth, solely with the natural aids of charity shop bits and pieces from across the world. Surrounded by squalor and the sea, the album groans with spray from the shores, soaring gulls and murky, thoughtful pools of deepest, darkest blue-black algae. At once burrowed in the silted-up, folky myths of a land time forgot, then buried alongside barndances at midnight, his sound varies from the brooding (nearly all tracks) to the twinkly and carefree, the likes of which 'It's Been Said' is an example, with its lighter, prettier, flowing tones and dusky, dusty underlays of quiet organ. Speckled with drone-based instrumentals and gasping breaths of piano, Gaskell's solo project is a humbly beautiful collection of gnarled wobblings and picturesque, pastoral warblings. Lovely. MMM ½

247 Magazine, April 2006
He’s shot away, he drawls like a cockney cowboy junky, he picks and slides on his acoustic guitar like he’s straddling Satan’s stretch rack, his name is JULIAN GASKELL and his 17-song album ‘Technology Will Make Us Better’ is what happens when Tom Waits falls into a Cornish tin mine, collides with Nick Drake on the way down and bangs his head in the wrong – or perhaps, right – place. It’s brilliant, original, full of character, full of sin and nothing whatsoever like the usual insipid acoustic-based guff you often hear in South West bars. I’m just sorry that we’ve only recently received the CD as it’s been out since October, released through Top Of The Hill Recordings in Hayle.Great stuff.

City Life (Manchester) 30th November 2005
Julian Gaskell – Technology Will Make Us Better
First impression: a nutter in the tradition of John Otway or our own Edward Barton, and nothing wrong with that. On second hearing, you get a deeper impression of Gaskell’s troubled personality, one that is in a constant state of agitation and anxiety. The songs have echoes of bluegrass, blues, world music and good old punk attitude. He plays most of the instruments himself and hence sounds like a one-man garage orchestra. ‘The Sweet, Sweet Smell of Decay’ is the ranting of a mind at the end of its tether and is utterly compelling. Not only does Technology… purposely exclude itself from the Mercury Award Shortlist, it seems designed for the oblivion so lovingly invoked on ‘We Never Said’. (MB) Rating: 8/10 Standout track: ‘If You Can’t Be Pleasant To Me’ Influenced by: Lambchop, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy Related artists: Skip Spence, Richey Edwards

www.diskant.net - August 2005
Julian Gaskell is part of the Icons of Poundland collective that wreaked musical havoc in the north-west with their home-baked folk/skiffle/punk mischief. He now resides in the more sedate climes of Falmouth and writes spooky, upbeat songs that sound like Tom Waits strung-out on fresh-air! The four tracks that make up 'Demonstration Recordings' aren't a million miles from Mr Waits' often-potent light jazz/dirty blues cocktail, and rattle between whacked-out, lowdown gritty stompers like 'Learn From Your Mistakes' and the gothic, gypsy-blues of 'Gather! While Ye May'. His voice is full of bedraggled, smoky mystery and he plays guitar, harmonica, balalaika, banjo and zither. For anyone who doesn't know what at least one of those instruments sounds like, the answer is: pretty special. This CD bubbles along like a particularly bucolic avant-folk experiment. If you like your avant-folk experiments bucolic then you've come to the right place.

credits

released April 1, 2005

Words and music by Julian Gaskell.
(p) & © 2005 Julian Gaskell

Personnel
Julian Gaskell
Vocals, acoustic, electric and slide guitar, harmonica, zither,
banjo, string bass, piano, balalaika, bouzouki, harmonium,
pianorgan, playart organ, cardboard box, tambourine,
banj-o-snare, shaker, bottle

Kester Jones
Hammond organ on “It’s been said” and “They gonna send the
heavies in soon”, slide guitar on “If you can’t be pleasant to me”
and “They got remedies” and mandolin on “Technology will
make us better”

Recorded at Clare House, Falmouth, Troubador Studios, Falmouth
and Logan Bank, Hampshire, September 2004-May 2005

Engineered, mixed and mastered by Julian Gaskell.

Photos by Leah Miles and Rick Gaskell.
Artwork and layout by Julian Gaskell.

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Julian Gaskell UK

a tumbledown world of gypsy-punk accordion, surf klezmer, speak-easy ragtime, intellectual drinking and protest songs, romantic piano torch ballads, sweet musette waltzes, violent tangos and stomping balkan skiffle beats played by Julian and his supporting cast of Ragged Trousered Philanthropists ... more

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