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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Defenestration Of St Martin
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Back in the days of Britpop, there were a band called Gene who were loved by many, hated by plenty for, supposedly, being a rip-off of The Smiths but largely ignored or treated with indifference by most. The biggest problem about Gene is that not enough people actually listened to them, which is a crying shame, because they were actually a brilliant bunch of musicians with some killer songs. They faded away at the very start of the 21st century and became little more than the occasional feature in music magazines' "Whatever happened to..." column. I was one of the people who loved Gene. This is why the announcement of a solo album by Martin Rossiter, the distinctive singer of Gene really piqued my interest and I bought it, blindly, without knowing anything about it, other than the title. I'm so glad I did.

Without any hyperbole, this album really is one of the very best things I have heard all year. With nine out of the ten tracks featuring little more than Rossiter's voice and a piano, this could have quite easily been dull and samey. The usually brilliant Rufus Wainwright, for example, sorely tested my patience with his 2010 piano and voice album, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu. However, Martin's songs - all of them - are absolutely magnificent, meaningful, personal, emotional pieces with the music and lyrics allowed the space to express their meaning and each track being a thing of shimmering beauty. It's very difficult to choose between the tracks, the opening track "Three Points On A Compass" is remarkable, the piano work on "Where There Are Pixels" is simply gorgeous and the bit where the band kick into life on the last track "Let The Waves Carry You" is a truly great moment, but each and every song on this album is superb. Gene certainly were a great band, but this album has become the singularly greatest thing that Rossiter has put his name to - and I don't think anyone saw that coming, apart from Martin himself, maybe...?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2012
This simple album brings home all the wonderful songwriting of Martin Rossiter without any further complication of pigeon-holing or forcing into a 'genre'
There are several genres for this beautiful work of art - perfection, stunning, outstanding - would be my tags if i ever got round to filing this album; which not be going on the shelf for a while!

Cracking set of songs and every accolade is absolutely deserved.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2013
I liked Gene from way back and came across this by accident, and liking their songwriting I figured this would be worth a listen.
I love the hymnal theme of the album. The songwriting is excellent, very thoughtful, insightful and meaningful - with beautiful tunes which improve on repeated listening.
It's clearly very personal and confessional which makes it all the more powerful. The songs demand you to sit and listen rather than having them on the background whilst you go about your day to day...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2013
It will be hard to write something that is different from what has already been written.However I felt compeled to review Martin's first solo record as it is such an inspiring piece of work, and if my words can convert one person into buying this Long player,then my work is done. Martin fronted one of my favourite bands Gene in the mid-nineties to early noughties.This was around the time of the brit-pop scene, however they managed to keep a healthy distance with their classy song writing, sharp suits, Martin's wit and wisdom flowing aplenty. As I say, Gene were a sophisticated outfit, and if you have not got thier back catalogue, the I strongly emplore you to do so.
Martin's solo album is very pure and stripped back to piano and voice and gives Martin an opportunity to show his lyrical prowess and at the same time show that his voice has developed along with his song writting abilty. Martin has always had a keen eye on piano led songwriting, which can be heard on his early work with Gene, if you ever hear "I Can't help myself" or "Drawn to the Deep End" to name but a few you will see that his penchant for this art form is awe inspiring, and can send a tingle down the spine and put moisture in the eyes. From the opening lyric in this nine and a half minue epic titled "Three Points on a Compass", which has a direct and hard hitting subject matter, you get the scene is set and Martin will take you on an emotional ride with splashes of witty lines along the way. This may sound a left of centre comparison, but if Martin was a stand up he would be Stewart Lee. Anyone who knows Stewart's work, may follow what I am getting at as he has a similar delivery that is so unique that has layers that force the audience into trying much harder to understand,educating, and pushing their boundaries into places that they'd previously feared to tread.
At nine and a half minutes it might be though that is a risky way to start your long player,right? Well no, it has all the potential to be a single, (if that was the done thing,in this day and age) it absolutley epic and is so well written with so many twists and turns, the listener never wants it to end. I have had the pleasure of seeing Martin perform his album three times on the live circuit in London and this song has the audience hooked. The second track is a beautiful song, which I first saw online and has a very catchy chorus and yet again the music is of very different nature to the opening track, it offers some wonderful lyrical genius, simplistic proves to be stronger and gives a direct bite.
Track three is very dramatic and has has some beautiful piano playing that will stick in your mind and it compliments Martin's subject matter. The music and lyrics then change tact, and become very sad and emotional. A gripping song that will grab your heart strings. Reminds me a little of a song called "Claret" by another resident of Brighton, My Life Story's Jake Shillingford a major compliment for any that have heard this track.
Track four, was the first song that was written for the album it is a short but powerful number. You see Martin maybe learning his craft in this song, this is significant as from this song an album was born. So thank you to "Sing it Loud".
Track five is a slower paced number, with some beautiful whistling that is very haunting and memorable. This track boasts an anthemetic chorus that will be sung aloud in bedrooms and concert halls alike, the word-smithery of Mr R are at work again. A powerful song, that is memorable for all the right reasons.
"I Must be Jesus" Mr Rossiter has himself a song title that may cause some "tutting" in certain circles. This track is a very strong and catchy track, with it's wry humour turned up to eleven. The subject matter is by no means humourous however Martin delivers his lines adeptly. A great piece of piano playing, one that would not look out of place on "Later with Jools Holland". There are some Church choir like backing vocals as well which only enhance an already wonderful piece of work. Martin has an idea for a video for this track, which he touched upon at his gig at the London Borderline way back 2012. It would be a sight to see, I can tell you. Track seven, a slow paced ballad which again is sing-a-long, a maudalin number but a catchy chorus drives this song along.
"Drop Anchor", a beautiful track that will tug at your heart strings, a hymn for the outsiders and broken hearted. I truly love this song, part of me feels its a continuation of an old Gene song called "Be my Light,Be my Guide". I also draw similarities to "Is it Over?" by Gene, it is Martin's finest moment for me on this album. A catchy chorus, some very well written lyrics that get in your head as I'm sure we've all been in a similar situation.
"Darling Sorrow", another gem sitting as the penultimate track on this wonderful long player it is soaring ballad that will also raise a wry smile to your face.
"Let The Waves Carry You", a upbeat track that is maybe a nod to how the next LP will sound, as Martin plays Bass, and we get some guitar(which he plays in his other band "Call Me Jolene"), drums and Kalimba at the end of the track. You are also treated to some beautiful falsetto from Martin as well. This track reminds me a little of Paul Heaton and the Beautiful South, which I am sure Martin would be happy with.
Hopefully this review is enough for you to part with your hard-earned. 10/10, an emotional album made with the heart, soul, art and honesty. Love it, I'm off to play it again.....xx
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2012
I was a massive fan of Gene and always loved Martin Rossiter and his voice. So this album for me like many other fans is long overdue. This album is simply beautiful from start to finish. It is very chilled out, the lyrics are great and his voice is amazing as always.

Favourites include Three Points on a Compass which is so moving, No One Left to Blame, Where are the Pixels and the single Drop Anchor.

This is a simple but stunningly beautiful album. Buy it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
'Three Points Of A Compass', the opening song on Martin Rossiter's album,
is hard to listen to. Here's a man baring his soul, cleaning out his closet
and reconciling himself to the past in words and music of such raw, burning
intensity that our throats tighten and although tempted to look away from
the brutally self-evident pain we are rooted to the spot like a rabbit caught
in the headlights. Not since I first heard Nick Cave's sublime 'Into Your Arms'
have I heard a composition which put my head and heart into such a spin.
It makes you want to reach out and give him a big hug; he sounds so horribly
alone and in a very dark place. The experience is emotionally overwhelming.

'The Defenestration Of St Martin' is a bold piece of work. Largely scored for
voice and piano, these ten stripped-down and tightly structured songs may
well prove Mr Rossiter to be one of the finest writers of his generation.
He has a very fine voice; a rich baritone; his diction precise and implacably
English; a perfectly-judged subtle vibrato adding further depth and texture.

Although the first number is a hard act to follow there are, nonetheless, a
great many more treasures evident in the set. The mood of the album rarely
falters : introspective, confessional and unrelentingly personal, these are the
outpourings of a man trying to find peace with himself with visceral honesty.

Whether in the quasi-medieval elegance of 'Sing It Loud'; the powerful anthemic
ebb and flow of 'Where Are The Pixels' and the delicate moonlit warmth and more
hopeful sentiments of 'Darling Sorrow' (where love and redemption appear, for a
few moments, at least possible), we are transfixed by Mr Rossiter's melancholy muse.

It's not all heavy weather though. The delicious irony of 'I Must Be Jesus' proves
that our host has a sense of humour too. Channeling the late, great David Ackles,
the dry-as-a-bone irreverence of its lyrics made me laugh out loud. A real cracker!

Yet another sparkling gem of an album destined for my year's top ten.

Essential.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2013
Close the windows and turn it up. Tighten your headphones and settle in for the best album of 2012. From the first note of the first song 'three points on a compass' it becomes obvious that we're in for a deeply personal and moving album. The sparse arrangements of each song lets them breathe; Rossiter has burned out the dense woods and his minimalist approach of voice and piano are like solitary trees reaching for the sky. It is difficult to convey just how great this album really is. My favourites are 'three points', 'I want to chose when I sleep alone', 'drop anchor', and 'where there are pixels' but all of the songs are strong. I would love to see him tour Ireland with this record. If not I would make do with a concert DVD. In the meantime utube will have to suffice. Other artists should listen to 'defenestration' to see how real music is made.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2012
Simple and Stunning. Just one of the best voices in the business and a simple piano.
Stripped to the minimum this shows off the wonderful clear voice of Rossiter and the pure craftmanship of top quality songwriting at is absolute best.
Melancholic, disturbing, thought provoking and yet haunting and beautiful.
I have always loved Rossiters voice and songwriting since Gene first hit the stage but this takes him and his gift to a whole new level.
If this doesnt get a Mercury nomination next year then I will eat the winning album.
Thank You Mr Rossiter
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2012
A very old and good friend of mine never really 'got' Gene. 'I don't like the singer's voice', he used to reckon. Well Martin Rossiter (for twas he) has never been in finer voice than here. For lovers of 'grim' this could be the album of the year.
Apart from a late flourish of electric guitar and drums, this is just the singer and a piano. Amid a series of gorgeous melodies of varying tempo, the mood is largely the futility and hopelessness of it all. The angst and neuroses of childhood are never really extinguished. And then you die.
'Sing it Loud' is heartrending; 'Sing it loud girl, sing it loud. It's the last song you'll ever have.'
You can always commit suicide; 'There is no-one here to hold you. Let the waves carry you - unafraid.'
Good grief? This is great grief!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2013
As a huge Gene fan I was surprised I never knew Rossiter had a solo album until a few weeks ago. I was wary of the sparse piano-and-vocal arrangement since that's usually not what I go for. I need not have worried, the music is so beautiful and evocative that I have already listened to this dozens of times over.

Not a "joyful" collection of songs, but it makes me very happy. I almost prefer it some of Gene's work. I have always found it a shame that Rossiter's sublime voice has not got more recognition over the years, and this is a brilliant showcase.
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