Born in Belfast, brought up in the north of England and now a Berlin resident for more than a decade, it’s no wonder that singer/composer Aidan Bartley feels that he’s “half at home everywhere, but not really at home anywhere.” Aidan embarked on his nomadicmusical adventure at the end of the 1980’s, busking his way around the calles, stradas, strassen and underground rail systems of Europe, pioneering the art of the guerrilla gig long before its commercial potential was tapped by The Libertines.
Since the arrival of his debut album ‘Between the Gutter and the Stars’, he has spent the past twelve years easing a series of understated masterpieces into the marketplace. His superb, cinematically- inclined solo work has attracted comparisons to the likes of Nick Cave, Peter Hammill and Michael Nyman and it displays an intelligence and sophistication that’s becoming increasingly rare in the ultra-disposable 21st Century.
He has amassed an acre of positive press along the way, with respected Irish publication Hot Press being moved to describe him as “a masterly and wonderfully original story-teller and one of the country’s best-kept secrets.”
The atmospheric, filmic qualities inherent in Aidan’s music have brought him commissions for TV, film, theatre and dance, and while there was no visual counterpart to his wholly instrumental album ‘Fragments of a Daydream’ (2008), the resulting LP sounded like the most accomplished soundtrack for an imaginary film since Barry Adamson’s landmark ‘Moss Side Story.’
Never one to rest on his laurels, the task of writing and recording the songs for his new album ‘Silhouettes’ found Aidan spending a week alone in a cottage in Spain with merely an acoustic guitar and his restless soul for company. Silhouettes’ is an album on first name terms with love, loss, lust and loneliness and is surely Aidan’s most compelling statement yet. Despite strong competition, it’s also surely his best so far.
In a world where economies can collapse as quickly as record companies, we need artists with the courage and skill to stick it out for the long haul more than ever. That Aidan Bartley has the style and substance to hang around has long been proved by his back catalogue, yet you suspect he’s still only scratching the surface. A rootless troubadour he may remain, but once his music has stolen into your head and heart, it will proceed to make itself at home for good.
Tim Peacock, editor: www.whisperinandhollerin.com