Marzipan (2007)

Acoustic instrumentals using European mandolin, octave mandola & acoustic guitar, and drawing on exotic flavours such as baroque, the Middle & Near East, rembetika and more.

Marzipan disc art, © Bradfield Dumpleton 2007

Throughout 2007 I was recovering from a nervous breakdown and in the depths of clinical depression. The music that forms this album helped me examine my profound grief & find my own ways to navigate the abyss.  With a newly-purchased antique European mandolin and a throaty octave mandola on permanent loan (neither of which I had ever played before), I set about pushing myself into more technical complexity & creative exploration, to stimulate my frontal lobe and balance my brain chemistry.

Far from a depressing album, I still consider this my most accomplished and substantial music to date.  Eighteen instrumental tracks, mostly featuring octave mandola and/or mandolin, with a few acoustic guitar pieces, and a smattering of percussion.  The mandolin felt lute-like, and I found myself drawing on sounds and moods from Moorish, Balkan, Baroque, Medieval, Greek rembetika, Celtic folk…..stately sounds, and dark fires, deep passions, proud & fierce.  The mandola felt like a bass guitar, it was muscular & earthed me, the acoustic guitar now was more reflective and lyrical, squeezing beauty out of grief.  There are playful moments, a little musical humour and flashes of upliftment, but none of the deliberate absurdism of the Spondoolies.  It may seem sombre in parts, but to me this collection articulates my finding some semblance of grace in the midst of devastation.  You can listen to the whole album here.

And perhaps to complete a journey begun with the Spondooli Brothers’ polished Anthology of Revised Ambiguities, and bridged by the roughly-hewn Camel Lips and A Month Of Moonbeams, there is a final reference to the Spondooli mythology before I leave Spondoolistan forever and enter the Fourth Dementia…..the loving embrace of the ukulele….

Marzipan gatefold sleeve. Art © Bradfield Dumpleton, photo: Malcolm Fielding 2007