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Alex Fergusson - The Castle

Every once in a while Alex Fergusson, the erstwhile guitarist and founding member of Psychic TV and Alternative TV, appears with a set of beautifully crafted pop songs. The Castle is his third solo outing following a privately pressed vinyl album and The Essence which appeared on Trisol Records several years ago. Post-punk revivalists should stop reading now, as The Castle is an idiosyncratic collection of folk-tinged songs and Velvet Underground rockers. That said, the succinct delivery of 'Dark Angel' with its soaring guitars, bass throb and guitar strum is positively proto-punk. 'Ways of Pleasure' and 'Hope' lean heavily on the Velvet's template, with 'Hope' co-opting a nice line in Bolanesque boogie. A Brit-folk influence can be discerned on 'Solitude' with intricate guitar work and a spoken voice of dewy eyed splendour, which is taken further into pastoral realms on the instrumental 'Twilight'. A sordid bar room tale lays the basis for 'Bar Noir' as Fergusson pens a vignette around a faded film star and anonymous strangers. The hushed voice and gentle acoustic strum of 'Daybreak', speared by electric chords, is reminiscent of Fergusson's Psychic TV ballads as found on Force The Hand of Chance and A Pagan Day. It almost goes all country-folk on 'Let The Sorrow Go', to which Rose McDowall lends her forlorn vocal over guitar strum, couched in weeping violins. It's a beautiful track, and when you take into account her previous guest spot on The Essence you wonder what would have happened if Alex and Rose had continued their working relationship following their duo shows at various festivals a number of years ago. The Castle is bookended by two ominous violin and drum tracks with 'Exit' merging the voices of Alex and Rose from the previous tracks.

It's a short and fragmentary set but one I've returned to repeatedly. Fergusson is more than capable of providing honeyed melodies drawing, this time, on a number of sixties influences. The Castle represents a nice low-key return for Fergusson and a nice detour for the Eis+Licht label. For more information go to or