Billy Currie’s prime association has always been as one of the main men of the synthesizer. Think strikingly cutting solos that could carve effortlessly into the strongest of rock formations; fiery, distinguished and beyond the conventional. Being no stranger to individual output, ‘Accidental Poetry Of The Structure’ is Billy’s seventh studio album and to mirror Billy’s vast body of solo work, is the flip-side to that golden Ultravox coin. Still drawing upon the many refinements in his playing, but this time, we’re driven to a very diverse area upon his creative map.
The flag to mark that transition was first raised back in 1988, following the demise of Ultravox, with Billy’s solo debut, ‘Transportation’. A long time had since passed and the themes contained throughout ‘Accidental Poetry Of The Structure’ effortlessly draw upon those bygone decades, progressing his sound signature towards that of beautiful music and manifesting as an avant-garde collection of instrumentals, with a strong sense of free flowing melodic transitions.
When ‘Accidental Poetry Of The Structure’ first appeared in 2006, it would be a physical CD release on Billy’s Puzzle label, with an accompanying eight-page booklet staging a classy collection of moody black and white photography. As sufficiently absorbing in its design was the package, the cleverly constructed title itself was enough to instill a veritable amount of silent intrigue. Of the title, Billy quotes on his website: “The title ‘Accidental Poetry Of The Structure’ is about the creative process of composing the music. When I write I usually have two or three ideas on the go. Differing colours and emotions. It is only when I work on the structure that the sparks start to fly and accidental to this process of structuralizing the piece, the musical ideas come to life and speak! The poetry of music is accidental to this creative structural activity”.
The journey into the articulate minimalism of this release begins with delicate piano sounds introducing the title track, with a subtle addition to the round, shortly followed by an immediate sensation of drama, courtesy of a familiar Apple loop, before lively beats are introduced. Later we would hear this to become the structural framework for the omnipotent ‘Satellite’ – a track that appears on the latest (2012) Ultravox album, ‘Brilliant’.
Throughout the whole album, the top end piano notes are a prominent stylistic feature; one that gently engages plenty of haunting ambience, particularly evident during ‘Williams Mix’ – a track that Billy had quoted to be quite German in influence with a nod to the legendary producer Conny Plank, ‘Skips Of A Chopped Head’, and also ‘Krakow’. The unsettling and dramatically tense pathway to ‘Skips Of A Chopped Head’ is a cousin to the high-pitched strings that initiate ‘Empty Stage Mantra’ from ‘Refine’, before it takes on a dub step feel that is encased in paranoia. ‘Krakow’ duly manages to preserve a mysterious context with a strong essence of searching.
Edging away from some of the more foreboding exhibits and towards compositions containing basic characters of gaiety, are ‘Idee Fixe Movement Three’ and ‘Matsang River’. The former contains passages of lively and lustful runs, while the latter is wonderfully buoyant, flows as nicely as such a title would suggest, and was actually borne out of those final notes completing the famed ARP Odyssey solo from ‘On Broadway’ – the live version that Billy performed with Gary Numan.
‘Folly Brook’ is consistent with its delicate violin sounds; a tentative magical charm building during its onward course. Compassion is a blanket of idyllic peace, if not slightly solitary and of similar pace is ‘Listening To Strength’, concluding the work and generating a very open and spacious feeling, populated yet again with those highly emotive strings, that on this occasion, induce melancholy overtones.
Not surprisingly, the ever-evolving sound textures that blend into ‘Accidental Poetry Of The Structure’ would expand upon the delicate theme of 2005’s ‘Still Movement’ – another of Mr Currie’s signature albums. Additionally, we could say it was the calm before the storm; Billy’s last solo album before the high-octane adrenalin of the Ultravox reunion, no doubt, would take over. Such a reunion by no means closed any creative channels however, and in August 2009, Billy’s eigth studio album ‘Refine’ was a joy to behold.
What makes the capacity for future compositions of great interest, is the wide sampling of ideas, coupled with the development of specific areas that Billy has previously explored in the solo context; the expressive strength of ‘Unearthed’, where the contemporary symphonic reigns, or the electro-charged Push which touches, in part, sounds that are more in alignment with various Ultravox styles – certainly tracks such as ‘Theremin’, ‘Step Forward’ or ‘Kissing The Shame’.
Considering ‘Accidental Poetry Of The Structure’, as a lost album, ie one you should own – as a mature effort it finds its own balance somewhere mid way; it employs simplicity as virtuosity and hybrids of dark edged experimental contrasted against the sublimely tranquil melodic fibres. A superbly accurate title, representing an equally impressive collection of sensual and evocative compositions.
Billy Currie’s new solo album ‘Balletic Transcend’ is due for release in October 2013
Ultravox play the following dates opening for Simple Minds in 2013:
Glasgow Hydro (27th November), Manchester Arena (28th November), Birmigham National Indoor Arena (29th November), London O2 Arena (30th November)
Text by Jus Forrest
11th September 2013