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Bedroom Community broadens the scope with En Garde by Puzzle Muteson, a mysterious, intimate record by a fearless songwriter and lyricist from the windswept Isle of Wight. Arranged and produced by collaborators and label mates Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurðsson, En Garde is a strange, comforting and alarmingly personal record. Driven, spare lyrics are hoisted high by vocals of steady, sturdy tremble. Each tune swells with plush guitar pluck in a sea of orchestration and electronics. Recorded in the Greenhouse Studios in Iceland, the album collects Puzzle Muteson's odd and beautiful stories about love and horses, rust and polar bears, heartbreak and birds. Puzzle's songs are curious sounds from a troubled heart and his lyrics are urgent and open, striking a note with their vulnerable memories. "I Was Once A Horse" is an unforgettable song about nostalgia. The title track pits Puzzle's longing against waves of dense strings and jagged rhythm, while "Perspex Disguise" sets his naked, translucent vocals against shimmering piano that refracts off epic chords. In "Flamingo Head" he sings; "I left your house. You let me. I left you ugly," buffeted by guitar and distant murmurs. "Not a single thing could take this magical sight. I'll find you still," he sings on "Medusa," the story of a man tracking down a lost love. Like many Bedroom Community recordings, En Garde takes an unexpected and unique voice and elevates it out of any easily discernible pocket. Puzzle Muteson could be "folk" or something completely different -- instead he's an intense stranger from the Isle of Wight -- at once both familiar and unfamiliar. En Garde heralds a haunting and essential new voice, beautiful, earned and yearning.
Release/catalogue number: hvalur011lp