photo grabbed from manchestertaper’s video recording

What can we say about Laura J Martin? Having heard her intricate, layered records we were somewhat surprised that she played this album launch with only a percussionist in tow. And only used him for two songs.

Feeding vocals, flute, mandolin, keys and a kalimba through a loop station, Ms Martin built up some dazzling textures that, unlike the work of some loop station devotees, always served the songs’ purposes rather than being used as purely novelty or embellishment.

And songs like these need no novelty effects to capture the imagination. Although her vocals might invite lazy references to Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom, there is something quite singular at play here: while the instrumentation and some of the subject matter conjure a very English rustic folkiness, there’s also a deep seam of oddness and otherness in these songs that pushes them into a territory that is very much their own.

Her set took in a good chunk of debut LP The Hangman Tree as well as a brand new song (“as fresh as your Sunday socks”) and culminated a colossal, dizzying cover of Kathy Smith’s It’s Taking So Long. I must confess ignorance of this particular song but I’m pretty sure the original cannot have sounded anything like this spiralling psychedelic layering of beats, mandolin, flute and vocal tics.

We got a great audio recording and a two-camera video recording of the whole gig and look forward to catching her set at the Sounds From the Other City festival in May.

Stream “Spy”:

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Download complete show in FLAC format (click here)

Setlist:
Doki Doki
The Lesson
Fire Horse
Tom
Jesse
Sour Grapes
Spy
Salamander
It’s Taking So Long

If you download and enjoy this music we would fully expect you to support the artist by buying their records and attending their gigs. Laura J Martin’s official website is here and her debut album can be purchased from record shops of quality and distinction such as Jumbo Records and Piccadilly Records.

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