It was around this time last year, plunging into the uncertainty of lockdown and without a full realisation of the horrors 2020 was about to unleash, that I came across a debut single by Garsa called ‘Jimmy Sour Highs’ – a singular ray of sunshine at the time. Martin Garside is Garsa – a solo recording artist working out of a home studio in outer Manchester somewhere – and his particular talent for songwriting was later to be recognised more widely when he was signed to Golden Believers Records, a very tasteful boutique label in Manchester.
Garsa has today released his debut EP, ‘The Unfairity’, delightfully named by Garside’s young son Lachlan. The title symbolises, in a sense, Garside’s empathy and sensitivity that flow through the themes of the EP and liner notes where Garside dedicates the music to all the good people. The good people that are perhaps unfairly treated by those political aristocracies and dynasties that seem to rule the world.
The EP opens with the most recent single ‘White Rabbit’ – a gentle melodic piece that typifies the layered nuances of Garside’s recordings: a deceptively simple delivery that is built on complex and intriguing instrumentation: a glitchy, sticky percussion and splashing guitars. Perhaps alluding to another track with the same title, there is a hint of psychedelia and a dreamy, surreal feel:
Garside’s vocals drip with melancholy: a delightful counterpoint to the often ebullient and chiming music underneath. ‘The Devil’s Own’ – premiered by Backseat Mafia last year – has a classic driving guitar riff underneath Garside’s yearning vocals, augmented by glorious Beach Boys harmonies and backing vocals.
In my review of Garsa’s debut single ‘Jimmy Sour Highs’ I noted his vocal style and melodies recall the baggy Madchester style of The Stone Roses or the Charlatans but the accompanying music is absolutely intriguing – an almost pastoral percussive beat that is like nothing like I’ve heard – creaking, rustling, bustling percussion that percolates through the gentle vocals. This adds a special bucolic air to the song, a hypnotic counterpoint to the indie beat. Garside said of the track:
Jimmy sour highs is a nod to the simpler pleasures in life whilst touching on the negatives of spending too much time under the influence.
This track emphasise the unique element to Garsa’s songs: no pastiche of influences or a rehashing of those who came before, but the embarkation on a totally new sonic vessel that is unique, fresh and intriguing. ‘The Unfairity’ has an intimacy and an expressive and understated passion delivered through yearning melodies that makes it so very special. Take ‘Ghosts’: a passionate flee for the environment, reviewed by me last year.
‘Ghosts’ is warning about climate change, a warning that is made all the more potent by Garside’s young son singing the last lines of the chorus: for it is his generation that will bear the heavy burdens we have collectively created:
…the inspiration for Ghosts came as a result of seeing a deer trapped on some private land surrounded by fences. It had managed to get in and couldn’t find its way back out. It got me thinking about the way humans treat the earth and the negative impact this has on nature, the environment and each other.
There is a political message in the song which is quite self-explanatory when you listen to the lyrics. It touches on the way todays actions will affect future generations and to help make that point, my nine-year-old son Lachlan-the next generation-sings the final chorus.
This is a beautiful, elegant and understated song, and is accompanied by a mesmerising video made by StefWithAnF (Pixabay):
‘Pelargonium’ (a genus of flowering plants ) is an evocative instrumental thats has the electronic stature of a New Order track.
‘One More Time’ is a haunting exit with a similar dark tone that inhabits this EP – one more time is all we have – ending with a fuzzy, dirty tone and an imperial grace: delicate strumming contrasting against the riffs and brooding bass.
This is an impressive and delightful debut from Garside, standing out in a crowded field for its originality and passion. Out today through Golden Believers Records, you can order through the link below, with a special limited edition physical CD version available: