Samuel Andreyev Songs Of Elsewhere

Not many albums come along that really do defy categorisation, but the latest offering from Samuel Andreyev really is one of the most unusual records I've heard in a long, long time. But already he has managed to acquire a famous fan: Van Dyke Parks, who gave his seal of approval. That recommendation hints at the level of orchestration to expect: delicate arrangements of strings and woodwind that swirl around in complex melodies. To the casual observer it might sound classical, but there are moments that are more like the High Llamas than anything else. Andreyev's voice is not dissimilar to Neil Hannon (from the Divine Comedy), as he annunciates every syllable in an affected manner that might be enough to scare some people off. The lyrics are complex and literate, with an air of pretension and self-importance that somehow feels appropriate. It's almost impossible to say that you dislike Songs Of Elsewhere, but it's equally hard to come up with a satisfactory explanation of why you like it. Truly an acquired taste, but you can't help but admire Andreyev's very original vision. (Torpor Vigil)