Marvin B. Naylor – The Stargazer’s Symphonium
By Damian Burke
A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of an album called The Stargazer’s Symphonium and along with it a hand written note which, as I’d come to learn, is very much fitting of the character of the artist, Marvin B. Naylor
READ MORE: A review of Marvin’s 3-track EP titled Little Bell
A Brief Biography
Though born in Bournemouth Marvin grew up and started playing music in Canada, before moving back to England in his early twenties. The 12 string guitar his main companion, he continued to move around the country playing in numerous outfits until two years with Polydor.
Twenty five years later, Marvin clearly still prefers his 12 string as The Stargazer’s Symphonium is built using mostly the instrument he’s mastered some time ago. Even sounds which can come across as backup vocals and ambient, nondescript strings on first listen were made, in their own way, by his guitar.
The Stargazer’s Symphonium
This is the video from the opening track and first single ‘Little Speck of Blue’, shot by Gary Brady who engineers and co-produces all of Marvin’s recordings. It’s not my favourite, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good ambassador for the album – an album which took three years to create, it’s worth mentioning.
Like a colour changing Catherine wheel in slow motion, the crisp steel and dynamic resonance present throughout sets a distinct palette for the 10 tracks which feature little in the way of percussion.
Realistically speaking, if I was on a cramped train and overheard a few bars from someone’s headphones, I’d probably think it Syd Barrett, Peter Seeger, The Beach Boys or even something more recent like My Morning Jacket, depending on what I could make out. If I caught the organic tones of certain bits of ‘The Nightingales’, I’d even take throw Andreas Vollenweider into the list of possible composers.
“Five billion years have gone, five billion years to go. Then it’s farewell, goodbye, to all of this we know”.
With topics of war, love and losing, youth and old age, mirth, regret, the mechanics of fairground rides, it’s typically folk in subject matter, mostly. All while the chord progression and harmonies used in tracks such as ‘Blue By You’ and ”Till Death…’ make melodic phrases fit for use in either modern metal, or children’s nursery rhymes from another generation. The album is by no means straight forward, there’s a lot of thought behind it all.
When the Tommies return to their respective villages, the album is complete and we’re back in England. From pomp and ceremony in sunshine to overcast seaside lamentation, Marvin created a broad backdrop for a picturesque work which I can only describe as wonderful.