Messrs Saunders and Irish (otherwise known as The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens) present a dark and unlikely musical concept based on the wayward brother of the better known Charles. The duo launch their debut vinyl EP at Stockton’s Sound It Out Records on Saturday 5th November via Butterfly Effect Records, a self-titled introduction to their Victorian gothic diorama.
Following on from recent single Shrines (which caught the interest of Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music) stylised synths meet sweeping violins head on as Saunders’ baritone vocals are the perfect foil for the subject matter. Indeed, the intro to opener Sibling Rivalry brings to mind the opening credits to Ripper Street, before collapsing into a rather beautiful piano-led ode to brotherly strife as it builds before dropping again and we are suddenly racing around Victorian back alleys.
Elsewhere, the two ghostly interludes are genuinely unsettling; there are nods to Nick Cave and Depeche Mode on Austerity Measures, while the waves of classical instrumentation compliment the organic samples and heavy industrial sounds on Penny Buns & Gin. Closer A Wasted Life bookends the more overtly Dickensian lyrical theme, providing a gentler, introspective companion piece to Sibling Rivalry that’s reminiscent of My Life Story. Great stuff.
Live, the duo’s performances are energetic, theatrical and filled with an operatic intensity that complements the varied instrumentation, reminiscent of Scott Walker, The Dead Can Dance and early Pet Shop Boys.