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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wunderkind proves he hasn't run out of ideas, 29 May 2007
By 
C. O'Brien (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: March Of The Lonely (Audio CD)
It's a funny old world. Signed at 16 and with two original and inventive albums under his belt, at age 24, wunderkind Martin Grech has found himself sans label, funding and band. He's hardly sans ideas, though, as third own-label release March Of The Lonely abundantly shows.

Shorn of the major-label finance that sometimes made Open Heart Zoo and Unholy a little unwieldy, this time Grech has produced an album of disarming simplicity and beauty. Departing the studios of the metropolis in favour of a chapel on an island marooned in the Thames estuary, he has stripped his songwriting back to the bone and concentrated on content rather than production.

The results are stunning, if lacking in the kind of sturm und drang we heard on tracks like Here It Comes or I Am Chromosome. These songs are delicately crafted, using little else but acoustic guitars and Martin's elastic voice, often multitracked and layered in a style that suggests early music or medieval plainsong. Folk influences also find their way in, with lead-off single The Heritage evoking the unlikely ghost of Johnny Cash.

Fans of the emotional intensity that characterised the earlier albums won't be disappointed, though: if anything, Grech's ability to evoke atmosphere and mood has deepened with age. His lyrics describe landscapes as if they were human bodies, and vice versa: in the questioning Kingdom, "old boats lay on their backs as if they were tired" while in the sensual Soul Sirens, "the rivers of the earth meet at your spine".

The edgy urban paranoia of the earlier work has almost entirely disappeared, though, replaced by a kind of brooding peace which avoids both blandness and sentimentality.

It's difficult to pick standout tacks from an album which operates almost like a song cycle; like Radiohead's OK Computer or Kate Bush's Aerial, this is an album which works best when you simply let it wash over you in its entirety.

By: Clare O'Brien, Subba-Cultcha.com
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet riot., 24 July 2007
By 
Elliot Davies "ahttt" (Liverpool, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: March Of The Lonely (Audio CD)
Martin Grech has very quietly released a third album. I consider myself quite the fan and it sure took me by surprise. One day I was enjoying the magnitude of Unholy for what must have been the eightieth time and I decided to check Amazon, you know, to see how the album had been received by others. Now, you can imagine how I felt when I then stumbled across March Of The Lonely. A surge of excitement was very quickly usurped by a sense of shame. Why was I unaware of this? Who do I think I am? etc. Guess I should have joined some form of online community. It's clear that here we have an artist who'll always release things under the radar of polite society, steadily building up a devoted and, at times, ravenous fanbase and yet never rising to the levels of commercial success of say, Springsteen, instead existing on the outside of the whole music scene, completely isolated from and independent of all notions of cool and infinitely more vital than a lot else out there as a result.

As a singer-songwriter, Grech is instantly vitruous by way of the fact that his name is not James. Don't get me wrong, songwriters do exist with said name boasting genuine talent, but looking at the insipid triangle of peril inhabited by Cullum, Blunt and Morrison, it is easy to conclude that there is something in that name which makes for the most moribund and irrelevant of music. Grech, on the other hand, like absolutely any other singer-songwriter of note that anybody could care to mention (Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, John Cale, Kate Bush, Robert Wyatt, Nick Cave, John Martyn) manages to create a world sonically and lyrically which, though harbouring some small traces of reality, is unquestionably his own, and I like it! It's a world which, should one choose to immerse onself within, one does not really feel like leaving, to the effect that once the album's drawn to a close, one has no choice but to play it again or...go outside and gaze at the starry night sky, or something. Or is that just me? I certainly don't think so. We have something TRULY special here, an album so deep and personal that just listening to it really does feel like an intrusion upon another world, a songwriter so inspired that the only contemporary I could care to mention at this given moment in time is Patrick Wolf, equally adept at seductive evocation that's perfect for escapist bliss.

Well, just in case there are any established Grecheads out there who haven't yet sampled the delights of March of the Lonely...it doesn't sound like Unholy. Or Open Heart Zoo. And yet, it's unmistakedly Grech. Albeit a HIGHLY stripped down Grech. There are no insane Chromosone/Dali freak-outs here. Instead, you get an album full of the introspective calm hinted at with songs like Venus, Lint and Catch Up. Songs are either folkish or countrified in their sound, think an acoustic version of Push or Notorious for the scope here, or more hymnal and, at times, even madrigal in their nature, such as the stunningly stark Heiress, in which Grech plucks the most minimal of notes on a quiet acoustic guitar whilst his voice soars, the power of an entire choir in one. Whilst OHZ (for me) evoked images of hospitals and airports and Unholy cathedrals and graveyards, the mindscapes evoked by March of the Lonely tend to be bleak and expansive in nature. Think of the hills of Devon in the early-morning blue-light of winter, or any stretch of the British coast at a particularly bleak dust. Indeed, Grech at one point even points out how the boats seem to be lying down as if tired: This is truly an album for those hours when the light is either fading or refusing to rise. An album to which bare branches can cast themselves against a grey and gloomy sky.

It must be listened to in one sitting, as a single piece. However, were I forced to pick out a favourite track, without hesitation I'd opt for The Giving Hands. I simply cannot put into words the acute beauty of that song. Also, the closing title track. It's like an ambient funeral march. It should be placed alongside Sigur Ros's Heysatan and Death Cab For Cutie's Stable Song as a truly devastating closer, like an aural punch in the gut.

Taken by surprise by a Martin Grech release? I won't let that happen again. He now appears to have his own record label, which means that we shouldn't have to wait too long for his next release. Obviously, that is a very good thing indeed. I can only imagine where he'll go next. Personally, I'm hoping for an album full of the quasi-ambient piano-driven pieces at which he's so adept.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The mark of a true master, 9 July 2007
This review is from: March Of The Lonely (Audio CD)
Martin Grech is an artist, pure and simply. Unlike the image conscious aficionados of the commercial reverie he does not feel obliged to cater for a specific niche. He is not bound by the pigeon-holes of genre or any particular form of stylish status quo, and as any great peripatetic creator he acknowledges that the day you adhere to a 'scene' is the day you commit professional suicide. Such integrity pervaded both of Grech's previous records, from the moonlight jazz veneer of 'Tonight' in 'Open Heart Zoo' to the insidious inferences to decadence hinted at through the dark drama of 'Erosion and Regeneration', from 'Unholy'.

It comes as no surprise then that Grech has taken yet another sharp turn in his young career by recording a minimalistic album of very simple songs that bare more resemblance to the work of folk heroes than the cathartic industrial style that populated most of his last two albums. Equipped with only an acoustic guitar and his ethereal voice Grech massages your senses with some of the most beautiful music ever committed to record. A milieu of natural enchantment and invigorating darkness is established from the very beginning with the celestial vista of 'Kingdom' and the spiritual ravaging of 'The Heritage', a tapestry that continues right to the eponymous 'March of the Lonely' - the harrowing yet somehow uplifting finale.

Much of Grech's lyrics allude to the lonely convictions of the great poets and artists of a world much forgotten, the vagabonds and vagrants who charged themselves with exploiting the unseen blisses of the rural world that could, and can, only be attained by one with enough patience and the emotional capacity to admit them when they occur. Apparently Grech wrote this album whilst camping out on an isolated island somewhere in the British Isles. Such actions speak of a man whose dedication towards music goes beyond a simple love for the medium, but rather the actions of an artist who lives and breathes everything he composes.

It is undoubted that there will be an audience for this album exceeding Grech's established fan base due to its backwater acoustic style. As for long term Grech fans, if you're bound to the industrial and rock genres that would most poignantly describe the peak moments of his last two records then you won't appreciate this. However If you possess a propensity to experiment with your tastes, or if your palette is already broadened, you'll be delighted.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really good album!, 23 Aug 2013
This review is from: March Of The Lonely (Audio CD)
The album in my opinion is really good! Unlike the other albums this one is very simple. The album basically has a lot of nice songs on here and even a folk style song "the heritage" which is also really good! One of my other personal favourites would have to be the final song which I feel is a perfect end to a brilliant album. There is not a song on this album that I didn't like so this album has to be good. I would say if you are a fan of martin grech then just buy this. I seriously doubt that you will be at all disappointed!
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March Of The Lonely
March Of The Lonely by Martin Grech (Audio CD - 2007)
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