May 182010
 

The Duckworth Lewis Method -The Duckworth Lewis Method 2009 DCR Dlm002.

The Duckworth Lewis Method is apparently a fairly important element to the sport of Cricket and I quote from Wikipedia….” In the sport of cricket, the Duckworth–Lewis method (D/L method) is a mathematical way to calculate the target score for the team batting second in a one-day cricket or Twenty20 cricket match interrupted by weather or other circumstance. It is generally accepted to be a fair and accurate method of setting a target score, but as it attempts to predict what would have happened had the game come to its natural conclusion, it generates some controversy. The D/L method was devised by two English statisticiansFrank Duckworth and Tony Lewis.[1]” more here if you are interested http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duckworth-Lewis_method.

Now you may well ask what relevance any of  this could possibly have to music ? Well not content with just giving their album this title or even giving the band/project the same name, musicians Neil Hannon (the Divine Comedy) and Thomas Walsh (Pugwash the Band)had to go one step further and make the subject matter of the entire album all about cricket. Is this the first concept album about cricket ? Probably.

Being honest I am not a fan of cricket, never have been and quite probably won’t ever be one, so when I heard about the subject matter of this recording, I shook my head, rolled my eyes and wondered how you could make an album about cricket interesting and musically stimulating. In my opinion watching paint dry would have more life in it, than a game of cricket. However, despite my bias against cricket my interest in Neil’s music outweighed my reservations so I picked up a copy.

My interest in Neil’s music goes back quite awhile to a time when I saw the Divine Comedy live, when he was the support act for Tori Amos, during her Under the Pink tour. The Divine Comedy was a breath of fresh air and came completely out of the blue for me, as I had not been aware of them before going to this concert. At the time The Divine Comedy had a back catalogue of material which somehow I had missed out on and this was something I corrected a few days later, as I purchased all of existing albums; all of which are excellent.

To be frank he was fantastic and his set, was not only way too short but was also much better than Tori’s.  Neil performed mostly acoustic with very simple instrumentation and a small string ensemble and produced incredible music. I was blown away by this performance and the wry, quirky nature of his music.  Since then I have kept an eye on Neil’s music and have bought many of his subsequent releases, which brings us to this particular album.

I bought it awhile ago (yes the music we review on AIHFA, are albums bought by the reviewers and not free promotional CDs) and I had let it languish on the shelf for a few months before peeling the wrapper off it and placing it carefully in my CD player for a listen. Well cricket may still be boring to my mind but there is absolutely nothing boring about this album.

Listening to the Duckworth Lewis Method is like that first live performance of Neil’s that I saw all those years ago a breath of joyful, quirky, wry, fresh air. The approach to the subject matter is obviously warm and respectful (mostly) but Neil and Thomas have found and exploit the humorous side to cricket as well as looking at its historical roots to great effect and have produced an amazingly good album. If I sound slightly incredulous in saying that, well being frank, I am somewhat surprised that I have embraced this album in quite the way I have and  I must state that I actually love it…never thought I would see typed words of mine, saying I would love something to do with cricket.

Musically this is very much a blend of the Divine Comedy’s style with the eclectic quirkyness of 10CC , Todd Rundgren and a little dash of early Anthony Philips.  Having also read a bit about Pugwash, though not having heard them I can also detect elements of the bands they are likened to i.e XTC, ELO, Jeff Lynne, The Beach Boys, The Kinks and just a wee hint of the Beatles. However to my ear the most obvious comparison for style would be 10CC.

Sound quality is good but does show some signs of dynamic compression (a common issue with modern popular recordings) but not as much as other albums I have heard recently. This is a shame as most of the early Divine Comedy albums have a very open and detailed sound with excellent dynamic shading, it is sad how times have changed. However overall this is a nicely recorded and finely crafted album that could have been a tad better in sound quality terms but the quality of the music throughout is amazing and makes up for this slight lack of recording quality.

If like me you don’t like or get what cricket is about, I can say that frankly you don’t need to in order to enjoy this album (though I dare say that cricket fans will probably get more from it than non fans) the music contained within this album stands on its own as a quality group of compositions that just happen to be about cricket. Buy it and enjoy it as I am.

Neil and Thomas very well done indeed, I hope to see something else from you guys in the future….we live in hope.

Highly recommended.

Neil

Sound  Quality 7 out of 10

Music 9 out of 10

System used….

AMR Cd 777, Moon Andromeda, Meridian G02 Balanced Pre-Amplifier, Music Reference RM200 Amplifier/Meridian G56, Anthony Gallo Ref 3.1 Speakers. Signal Cabling Atlas Marvos xlr to xlr, and Atlas Marvos Speaker cable. Mains leads Audience AU24 and Analysis Plus Power Oval 2. Equipment Tables used Clearlight Audio Aspekt Rack and Mana Floor Amplifier platform.

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© Text Copyright 2010 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio.

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