apartments Black Ribbons (12", £8.75)label: Chapter Music
The man about whom the Go-Betweens sang Don’t Let Him Come Back…is back! Revered pop romantic Peter Milton Walsh and his band the Apartments return with their first new recordings since 1998. The resigned beauty of Black Ribbons, presented here in two distinct versions, is the first evidence of a newly invigorated Walsh, who has been the sole constant in the Apartments since the band formed in Brisbane in 1978. Side A’s “Spring mix” was recorded as a duet with Natasha Penot, vocalist for Parisian electro-pop group Grisbi, reflecting the fact that to this day the Apartments remain a revered cult in France. The ﬂip side’s “Autumn mix” is darker and more brooding, recorded with former Go-Between John Willsteed in the producer’s chair. Both versions illustrate the richness and emotional weight that more than three decades of songwriting can produce. After a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spell in the Go-Betweens (that still inspired both Don‘t Let Him Come Back and Before Hollywood track That Way), Walsh released debut EP The Return Of the Hypnotist in 1979, by which time the original incarnation of the Apartments had already split. He then headed to New York for a couple of years, moving to London in 1983 to play bass for the Laughing Clowns just long enough to tour the world with the band and record their second album Law Of Nature in 1984. Walsh then got together a new Apartments, releasing second single All You Wanted which resulted in them being signed to esteemed UK label Rough Trade. Finally, The Apartments’ debut album The Evening Visits…And Stays For Years, recorded in London with the help of members of Orange Juice, Everything But the Girl and The Triffids, was released on Rough Trade records in 1985. The Evening Visits is a classic of grand, literate and incisively emotional pop. Signature tune Mr. Somewhere was covered by 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil, and the band found themselves lauded in Europe, where they began touring. The Shyest Time single followed in 1988, lifted from the Some Kind Of Wonderful soundtrack to promote the movie by teen-flick auteur John Hughes. After a decade’s absence, Walsh returned to Australia, forming a new Apartments and releasing a series of acclaimed albums, including Drift (1993), A Life Full Of Farewells (1995), Apart (1997) and Fête Foraine (1998). Due to Walsh’s increasingly reclusive nature the Apartments’ career was marked more by silence and disappearances than the usual band routines. Yet, Walsh was lured out of musical retirement in 2007 to play the first live Apartments shows in Australia since he had long ago left the country for Europe. Later alerted to interest shown by fans via La Blogothèque, the legendary French music blog, Walsh took a version of The Apartments to France in the Autumn of 2009. There he played a handful of rapturously received dates, including a sold-out show in Paris and other French cities. Recently, the Apartments have also been championed by a new generation of US pop lovers, featured on recent mixes and playlists from the lo-ﬁ likes of Blank Dogs and Big Troubles. Suitably reinspired, Peter is now at work on a new Apartments album, with Black Ribbons a tantalising first glimpse of riches to come.
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