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Back to Berlin

Thirty four years ago, Lou Reed released Berlin, a masterpiece of melancholic story-telling, in which the backdrop of the city loomed as the main character, indifferent to the fates of Lady Day, Jim, Caroline, or even Lou himself. The story that unfolds in listening to Martin Walker’s new release -- nylon -- casts twin cities as its leads to similar effect.

Although it has been fifteen years since Walker left London for New York, the tension between these two worlds – one abandoned, one adopted – establishes itself as an unspoken metaphor for the tension between Walker’s private inner world, reflecting his response to his repressive homeland, and the confessional, no-holds-barred honesty of his writing, in keeping with New York’s inimitable brand of frankness.

nylon leads the listener through a sonic landscape that evokes the broken, burned out buildings of the soul, sunlight glimmering at the edges of leaden clouds. With lyrical subjects ranging from his struggles with alcoholism to his reactions to his wife’s post-partum depression, it is clear that Walker has been on a searching journey. But although the musical tone and subject matter can be melancholic, the genius of nylon lies in its inverse emotional impact – despite the hard-won sadness, one comes away feeling uplifted rather than downcast.

Walker has collected some of the finest players in New York to help fulfill his musical vision. The album is lovingly produced by Jimi Zhivago (formerly of Ollabelle,) and features founding Mars Volta drummer Blake Fleming and cellist Julia Kent (Antony and The Johnsons, The Angels of Light, Jarboe). Walker also spurns the pro-tools digital shortcuts prevalent in most recordings today. Pete deBoer recorded and mixed nylon to two inch analog tape, and Joe Gastwirt the analog mastering legend (The Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones) provided the finishing touch for a CD that sounds truly superb.

1. fools

2. we all are one

3. i'll see you again

4. my darkest hour

5. i never told you this

6. nylon

7. back to you

8. the death of socrates

9. say goodbye

10. blouse roumaine

11. all i want to do