MF TOMLINSON, the project of London-based, Australian singer-songwriter Michael Tomlinson, is today taking us deeper, oh! so deeper into his particular blued Montagued Terrace with a new single, “Them Apples”; the second single from his debut album, Strange Time, which is out on April 9th.
Quickly following his debut EP, Last Days Of Rome, Strange Time was written slap-bang in the middle of 2020; Tomlinson, in lockdown purdah with a home studio; the songs began to flow.
Today’s drop, “Them Apples”, is the seven-minute plus rock on which the album anchors; a stupendous excursion into proggy acid folk, roaming freely; take a listen.
Are you, like me, getting a little of the dulcet and grandiose vocal delivery of the artist known at birth as Scott Engel, here and there, in a song with guitars glimmering and finally letting it all hang out in acid-rock soloing; periods of unbridled cackling, recalling the dark witch-folk of Comus; lyrically reaching out in a time of isolation and intensity (“Why won’t you talk to me, tell me everything?”)?
Funky organ vamps bed in philosophical observations – “Even when we’re really here, half of us hangs in the air”, as chorus vocalist Connie Chatwin sings the news of the world to him sweetly: SOS notes found in cheap clothes from Bangladesh, Venice sinking further beneath the waves.
Tomlinson explains: “Originally it was because Viljam (Nybacka, co-writer of the song) asked me: ‘What have you been doing?’ I said ‘I can’t remember, I’ve been so busy.'”
“I thought that was intriguing – the intensity of life rendering each day featureless. Then the pandemic hit and everyday really was the same! I knew then that this was one of those – a song about everything all at once, a real rabbit hole.”
And the weird, dislocated backing lyrics? “They are tweets, feeds, stories from phones and various other devices.
“They are the voices in our heads that only we can hear as we go about our daily lives, inaudible to others outside of our personalised versions of reality on our screens.
“The meditative chorus lyric is the reason for the season, the compulsion and anxiety to find the answers and validations that we want from the world through the portals that we carry around with us.”
Strange Time captures a period in our lives that we would all perhaps prefer to forget through a prism of fine folk rock with a little LSD; but this six-track album should help us get to the other side, and beyond.
MF Tomlinson’s Strange Time will be released digitally and in a numbered vinyl pressing of 150 on April 9th; gather together your pounds, shillings and pence, because the shopkeeper is taking orders over at Bandcamp now.