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Sweet Billy Pilgrim Twice Born Men Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Staggering in like three lost souls sheltering from the raging storm.

Daryl Easlea 2009

Nestling in the sizeable grey area between indie and experimentalism, we find Sweet Billy Pilgrim. With their second album, Twice Born Men, the trio of Tim Elsenburg, Anthony Bishop and Alistair Hamar provide another fascinating antidote to the falsehood and artifice prevalent in current pop music.

Staggering in like three lost souls sheltering from the raging storm, Sweet Billy Pilgrim create tiny symphonies in a vacuum. Twice Born Men – a loose concept about love – (''but not in a Barry White way'' Elsenburg has quipped) is a rewarding, if occasionally challenging listen.

Elsenburg's music is all about texture. Found sounds and clicks weave in and out of the mix. There is even – ahem – a tuned dishwasher on Kalypso. Longshore Drift rises and swells, snapping in and out of focus, while Joy Maker Machinery is an otherworldly ballad. But there are songs here, too – Truth Only Smiles is longing pop, evoking Talk Talk and the Beach Boys. Remarkable, too, is the album's closer, There It Will End; a hymn which features Elsenburg's voice overdubbed 30 times.

Similar to their debut record, 2005’s We Just Did What Happened And No One Came, Twice Born Men sets its own space and time, demanding a listener's full attention. It revels in the peace it creates and sometimes destroys. Like the work it is sporadically reminiscent of, it's engrossing, out-of-step, difficult yet peculiarly gratifying.

Signed to David Sylvian's Samadhisound label, the delightful sleeve contains as much detail about the painting on it (by Tacita Dean) as the recording itself. If that floats your boat, you will love this record.

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