Boomkat Product Review:
Dead strong LP of Ann Margaret Hogan in collaboration with Nick Cave, Jarboe, Marc Almond, Barry Adamson, Kid Congo Powers, Gini Ball and JG Thirlwell, inc instrumentation from Siouxsie / Banshees drummer Budgie, recorded over a span of 30 years and now assembled by Regis/Downwards and mastered by Veronica Vasicka.
Hogan’s involvement with new wave, new romanticism, post punk and all-things-avant makes her a uniquely placed character thru so much foundational music in our world - her recording/performing biography intersects with everyone from Soft Cell, The The and The Human League through to Simon Fisher Turner, Barry Adamson, The Style Council and more recently with Karl O’Connor aka Regis’ Downwards universe.
For 'Without the Moon’ (a title borrowed from Cathi Unsworth’s book of the same name), Hogan pulls out some of the most satisfying collaborations from her archive, featuring a couple of tracks originally released in 1985 on Cabaret Voltaire's Doublevision label, as well as recordings that are here issued for the very first time. It’s properly all-over-the-place brilliance, ranging from Nick Cave’s incredible 1983 piano blues slo-mo grind ‘Vixo’ all the way thru to the Paul Kendall (Nitzer Ebb/Depeche Mode) engineered ‘Come Take My Hand’ produced and featuring Barry Adamson and sounding like some vintage Les Disques du Crépuscule poolside obscurity.
Opening with ideas mapped out while staying at Lydia Lunch’s gaff in summer ’83, the record lassos 30 years of Hogan’s personal highlights, harking to a time circa 1984 when she regularly caught The Birthday Party playing Leeds or London, often crossing paths with Cave, and right thru to 1989’s ‘Come Take My Hand’. While ‘Delirious Eyes’ is a gorgeous slow dervish of swaying middle eastern scales featuring Gini Ball’s elusive smoke trail vocals, it’s best heard in context of the sequencing, which soon erupts with Marc Almond’s vocals on the arsonist thrill of ‘Burning Boats’ and JG Thirlwell’s signature clangour, while ’Scattered Carelessly’ was written in 2008 and gives the sweetest canvas for Hogan's keys complemented by a whispering Jarboe ov Swans, and ‘Black Nocturne’ stars a perfectly tempered guitar shimmer by Kid Congo Powers, a longtime accomplice, whom Hogan first heard playing guitar on The Cramps’ records that she played in DJ sets at the time.
Illuminated by Hogan's favoured solo piano, ranging from flickering candlelight to hammering theatrics, and even including a rare appearance of her vocals on the could-have-been-a-popsong closer, the six songs on ‘Without The Moon’ speak to an incredibly rich artistic life spent immured at the core of her practice. Song to song, she outlines an extraordinary oeuvre that ties together and leaps between eras, drawing on decades of experience as a performer, composer, collaborator and ardent listener to portray a full spectra of styles she’s been involved in shaping for decades. Stunning.