Sunday, 6 September 2015

Paul Roland

Often the best in music (and other artforms) goes unappreciated. Such is the strange case of Paul Roland. He make some of the best rock music ever made, yet is not only unknown to the public, but also to the critics and most music fans.

Paul Roland was born September 6, 1959 (this should go up on his 56th birthday). He made his debut rather young as an artist in 1980 with the album The Werevolves of London. With certain hiatuses, the longest of which was in the late 1990s and early 2000s in order to raise his children and write books, he has released albums ever since.

The best way I can find to describe his music is intellectual art pop. His songs are generally short, melodic and catchy, yet genuinely intellectual and artistic in the way pop music so rarely is. The music has intellectual and romanticist quality that has made him popular with Progressive rock fans, earning him an entry on the prog archives site, yet  has the directness and melodic qualities of good pop music. As he explained in an interview,  "early rock records instilled into me the idea that you should say every­thing you need to say in 3 min­utes or less and get to the point from the first few bars".  He himself describes his music as "spinning musical tales against a backdrop of gothic rock, psych pop, folk & baroque strings." This gives some idea of the sheer range and variety his music has, yet he retains a distinct and very original identity.

What really sets Roland apart are his lyrics. They are very gothic and romantic, often with elements of horror, the fantastic and the macabre (though not morbid, as he likes to point out). In a 2005 interview with Nucleus Magazine, he described his lyrics this way: "As for lyrics, they tend to be historical or supernatural as I am not interested in mundane, every day modern images".  He is thus more the heir of the romantic poets of the 19th century, than any rock lyricists, who instead tend to focus on personal issues and love. A recurring theme is an idealized victorian/edwardian era, making him an important forerunner of the modern Steampunk movement (which he has written a book about). His inspirations vary, from horror and fantasy books and films to historical events and persons.

I'm not a good music critic, so I will keep this short. The only reason I wrote this is to promote an unjustly neglected music artist. If you are at all interested in hearing music with fantastical or historical imagery, you should check him out. He has made a playlist of various songs of his on youtube, that serve as a good introduction to his work here. Good introductory songs, giving an idea of his range, in no particular order, are The Edwardian Air-raid, Wyndham Hill, Nosferatu, In the Opium Den, Gabrielle, Twillight of the Gods, Buccaneers, Taliesin and The Crimes of Dr Cream. There is much more good stuff, but that should get you started.

Some other resources:

His website.

Interview database

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