A pause inevitably ends a Peter Murphy album whether it's mastered to disc or just unintentionally there as you naturally wait for what happens next. This may in fact be the last Peter Murphy CD review I write for Release Magazine. His music has gone to the outer genre boundary of what Release deems “our” content. Murphy has steadily moved from the darkness towards the light of contemporary alternative music. Keep cool, he still hasn't lost his growl yet.
Eleven songs on "Unshattered" are produced by Gardner Cole, Senior Vice President of his new label Viastar Records (USA). Separating his private life from his career, Murphy ventures off from Istanbul to London , Montréal, Los Angeles and his label's homebase of Phoenix , AZ. Murphy unfolds his solo journey in the making of this record. Some songs are co-written with Ned Bouhalassa of Montréal to where the recording and collaboration began and it built on Murphy's earlier ideas with "Dust" composer Paul Statham. A short time in Toronto to meet and write with Kurt Swinghammer (Vital Sines) brought Murphy ready to get the project going.
Once the studio players were added, it was a potent mix: Peter DiStefano (Porno for Pyros, Rambient), Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), Eric Avery (Jane's Addiction) and many well respected studio musicians: Ramy Antoun (drums), Deon Estus (bass), Tim Pierce (guitar), and Harry Gregson-Williams (programming). Additional recordings were completed in Phoenix where label Viastar is based.
Lead track “Idle Flow” does not differ significantly from the 2001 recorded version by project Rambient, where Murphy was a guest vocalist. A conscious decision not to have Turkish instruments involved on “Unshattered” makes this listen very strange indeed. It's stripped down yet made ready for anyone's musical tastes. In the "Thelma Sings to Little Nell" lyric "as she sings from one to 99..." brings warmth yet chills. Let it set in and you can feel the spiritual essence of Murphy fill the room. Bass is significantly there on "The Weight of Love" as are the keyboards of producer Gardner Cole. Murphy builds on the foundation of long time coming "Dust," but from a new direction. He is without the noticeable Turkish influences here on “Unshattered”. A haunting echo in "Give What He's Got" and guitar in the flowing foreground. Closer "Breaking No One's Heaven" gives insight to “Unshattered” as it repeats lyrics and elongates musically later like it never wants to end. This is the closest we get the Murphy of olde as he does a speak-over at the beginning. Regardless of the musical recording locations, I can only imagine that Murphy is a vocalist who never needs a second take during recording.
It's hard to say which is the most solid single song here as "Give What He's Got" is as strong as "Idle Flow" or "Blinded Like Saul" which includes some drumming by Bauhaus brother Kevin Haskins. This album unravels itself over different locations but doesn't give the feel of these locales. It still holds the spiritual context and charmed vocals Murphy is known for in this new collection of thoughts and music. As most know, Peter Murphy onstage a spectacle not easily confined to CD.
Today, we get Peter Murphy moving on from studio albums “Cascade” and “Dust”. No more batcave. Begone.