Meursault – The Organ Grinder’s Monkey

Kickstarter campaigns can be polarising events; the crowd funding site has gained media prominence over large scale projects such as the Veronica Mars film and Amanda Palmer’s music-related raisings – with the former being questioned on the likely millions that will be made, and the latter due to the singer-songwriter’s use of unpaid musicians. Beneath the dust of the journalist fodder, however, Kickstarter can be a great tool for artists located more on the DIY side of a musical Venn diagram, which leads us to the new offering by Meursault.

The Edinburgh stalwarts are hitting up America this year and a Kickstarter campaign was set up to help fund both a trip to the SXSW Festival in Texas and an East Coast tour, and these things don’t come cheap!

Far from hanging around outside Waverley with much relayed tales of missed trains for commuters, the band asked fans to contribute and were able in return to offer an album consisting of reworked Meursault songs and cover versions chosen by contributors.

The Organ Grinder’s Monkey comes in at 14 songs and almost 75 minutes long, perhaps due to how far the original £3000 goal was exceeded (they raised a whopping £5184 if you’re interested) and very possible due to the varied options presented to them.

Reworked versions of original Meursault tracks make this a must have album for fans of the Song By Toad alumni; a fuller version of One Day This’ll All Be Fields feels like an idea achieved, while A Kind of Cure always felt like a track that would have spearheaded any of their albums and does so here.

The album consists mainly of fan-chosen cover versions and Meursault listeners thankfully have a strong sense of what will work for the band. The realisations are met in a manner that is often not far removed from the originals in terms of arrangement and production, but feel very Meursault in delivery.

Neil Pennycook’s vocals are as ever a beacon through the musical endeavours on offer and stand strong through what might be an introduction to fans of some songs and equally as a fresh statement piece for these hearing a classic revisited.

The cover of Poor Old Christopher Robin by PAWS is a compelling retake on a band from a different stance, and the fleeting piano encompasses the slight variations that make songs throughout have that feel of the new but old.

Guided by Voices’ track Game of Pricks is perhaps the best example of a song that has a different feel and production, while Low’s Dinosaur Act is almost untouched, and both feel done just the way they should be, a feeling that the album in whole produces.

The Organ Grinder’s Monkey gives a lot of angles to view the band from and the alignment of reworked originals and revision of covers feels seamless as the album progresses, showing there are projects worth crowd-funded investment. The live recording process has clearly helped produce something that a more processed studio version perhaps couldn’t, and while the aim was to raise money and get the band to distant climates, Meursault have also managed to produce something that will be valued and kept close by many.

Chris Hay

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