Aidan John Moffat - I Can Hear Your Heart
You probably know Aidan Moffat as the dour vocalist of Arab Strap and if you were a fan of theirs there is little doubt you're going to enjoy this. If you're new to his work then providing you have a love of English prose, an appreciation of theatricality and you can take some strong language, it's likely you'll get a lot out of the album too.
The first track on the album tells you to stop the CD and read the story that can be found in the booklet (labelled 'Part One') and then start the CD again from track two. It claims that you won't be able to fully comprehend the audio section of the album unless you have first read this story; I'm not sure I agree with that but you'd certainly be a fool not to. The story, 'Poop', is a slightly rambling tale written in the first person to a girl who is apparently a very old and good friend of Moffat's. It's full of a great imagery with an ending that leaves you somewhat unsettled and will only take a few minutes to read as it only covers five pages of the booklet.
The CD is only a little over 30 minutes so this story isn't excluded for reasons of running time. According to the press release: "The idea was to get the listener more involved, to put my thoughts in their head right away. The printed word is the closest connection you can have with an audience – a direct line to their mind." Hearing it properly in Moffat's voice would have added even more atmosphere but there is a nice anticipation built up from going through this story steadily at your own pace.
The album reminded me a lot of Ivor Cutler's work (something Moffat mentions in the press release), a collection of straight-read prose with, or without background sounds and or music, a few interludes that are supposedly voicemail messages and a couple of songs. The final track is the only one over two minutes in length, and is a great story about one night he has while at a loose end. It's brilliantly written but then everything on here is, as if he spent many months getting everything just write before recording.
After my first listen I was hesitant only about how much re-listening this piece might have, but I've now gone through it four or five times and it's not an issue. The ideas and atmosphere of the album are strong enough to keep you coming back.
Apparently the final version that will come out in the shops will have CD-ROM content, the full text lyrics (this promo version only includes the opening story and the track titles) and a bonus five-track EP and bonus short story.