A tremendously interesting album from a hugely intriguing artist who draws inspiration from emotional trauma.
Brian Christinzio, ‘BC Camplight’, is a New Jersey-born musician who reached an incredibly low ebb and relocated to the UK over eleven years ago; he asked his Facebook followers if any knew of a flat in London to which he could escape and ended up in Manchester after the offer of refuge from a journalist friend. He now considers himself Mancunian and particularly enjoys the grey, damp weather.
Each of the three albums he has recorded since moving to Manchester has been preceded by some mishap or calamity, and this latest one, ‘The Last Rotation Of Earth‘, follows the break-up of his long-term relationship with his fiancé after nine years together. The outcome is highly interesting, with Christinzio describing it as “more cinematic, sophisticated and nuanced than anything I’ve done before.” He goes on to describe how the separation altered his creative focus and caused him to “scrap ninety-five per cent of what I’d already recorded”, finishing ‘The Last Rotation Of Earth‘ in two months and making what he believes is his most vital album.
Musically, there is a combination of beautiful, often piano-based melodies and catchy choruses alongside jarring blasts of guitar, discordant instrumental passages or what sound like short sections from a musical. Christinzo is not a fan of verse-chorus-middle-eight-chorus and his intriguing approach to songwriting is all the better for it. There are a range of influences, some of which evoke The Blue Nile (‘It Never Rains In Manchester’), some Ben Folds (‘Going Out On A Low Note‘) and some 1980s electronica (‘Kicking Up A Fuss‘), and the way he pieces together the often diverse elements to each song is almost Brian Wilson-esque.
And to go with this, Christinzio’s incredible lyrics, full of description, often witty images to convey tragic details, and plenty of black humour and irony, really draw the listener in. During ‘The Movie‘, we see “a man in his 40s dressed in a Kermit the frog onesie looking at a photo of a Portuguese sunset” bringing back memories of happy times in the relationship, then as things go wrong, “the reflection of a man looking into the bathroom mirror repeatedly singing the last line of happy birthday“, and by the end of the song, “You can find me in Albert Square talking to God, but no one’s there“. By the time we reach ‘I’m Ugly‘, “I’ve got a paper bag on my hat rack…I’m a disaster….I’m a weirdo….it’s the way I was put together“. A notable feature of the album are periodic conversational voices, as if a cast of people were delivering their lines – which was exactly part of Christinzio’s thinking. “I wanted to make the songs resemble little films, with lots of ideas,” he says.
This is “a document created in the shadow of incredible darkness. One from which the creator hadn’t planned on escaping, and still doesn’t. Hence the title of the album. However, I don’t want to say how shitty everything is over a 38-minute record. I’m still capable of being funny and alive”. There is actually no better place to start than the opening title track. “For the first time since I arrived in Manchester,” he says, “I thought, why am I here? I came to find my music, and to find her, and she’s gone. I do everything in my power not to be dramatic, but I didn’t want to be alive anymore. So, I imagined what your last day on earth would be like. Though the lyrics are often quite sweet, like appreciating the looks that strangers give each other, from the perspective of a guy soaking up every last bit of life.”
‘The Last Rotation Of Earth‘ is an album that is different from anything else you will hear this year, and although at times there is a sense of impending doom, there are many moments that will make you smile, and each time you listen, there’ll be something new to discover.