Event Time Wed 9th Oct at 7:00pm-Wed 9th Oct at 11:00pm
Event Location The Deaf Institute, Manchester
The Deaf Institute


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On the Edge of a Lost and Lonely World, the second album from Rob Marshall’s Humanist project, showcases the vocal talents of a number of iconic artists. This choice cast navigate a masterful expansion of the Humanist sound-world, broadening and deepening the terrain first explored on 2020’s much lauded debut album, further consolidating the emergence of Rob Marshall (guitarist of Exit Calm and co-writer of Mark Lanegan’s celebrated Gargoyle and Somebody’s Knocking albums) as a songwriter, composer and producer with a singular musical vision.

The album is a reminder of how emotionally affecting guitar-driven music can be at its best: soaring, turbulent, soul-searching, and above all sincere; you can hear that Rob’s been through it all, wears the scars to prove it, and has come through wiser, more experienced and resilient. An artist of the old romantic school, it’s obvious that Rob means it. On this second Humanist album, it feels like the stakes are high: here’s one man’s soul, painstakingly laid bare.

Though On the Edge of a Lost and Lonely World has all the gothic industrial foreboding of Humanist’s debut, the palette has broadened to take in more light and shade, expanding to include the feathery guitar washes welded onto driving motorik rock’n’roll, contrasted with the sweetness and light of Isobel Campbell’s exquisite “Love You More”, which takes you back to peak My Bloody Valentine at their most shimmering and ethereal. On this second Humanist album, Rob has emerged as a master of such subtle, delicate textures, gossamer-fine filigrees of guitar lines, electronically treated until you can’t be sure if it’s guitars or the ethereal beating of wings.

The first Humanist album was a swirling Niagara of fuzzed-out melody and noise, visceral, cinematic, mesmerising, a big, triumphant album featuring vocal contributions from Mark Lanegan, Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), Mark Gardener (Ride) and Joel Cadbury (UNKLE), among others. A soaring record of huge ambition, it was Rob’s first solo project after his band Exit Calm split, and also the first record he’d ever fully produced. It was both a showcase and a powerhouse, and it sounded like Rob could smell victory. But just as his masterwork was ready to go, Covid stopped everything dead in its tracks, a promotional tour was cancelled, and the world sank into a long limbo...

Not long after the limbo of lockdown, the untimely death of Rob’s key collaborator Mark Lanegan, with whom he shared a deep and ongoing musical friendship, came as a tragic blow. Rob wrote and produced six tunes for Mark on their first collaboration together, the much-celebrated album Gargoyle (2017 Heavenly Records). Mark’s next album Somebody’s Knocking (Heavenly Records October 2019) featured six more co-writes from Rob. The first tracks they ever worked on together were included on the first Humanist album.

As painful as they are, such sojourns into the wilderness can heighten and hone the artistic instinct and emerging from the cocoon so painfully delineated in “The Immortal,” Rob has gone back to the source, and drawn deeper from the well. The new album explores and develops themes pondered on his debut - existential questions of life, death, purpose, hope, suffering, redemption - but now with a deeper palette of sounds and emotions, more nuance, a growing mastery of the form, producing a record of emotional subtlety, depth and scope.

Rob’s vocals, as Madman Butterfly, are all to be found in the increasing abstraction of the second half of the album, with conventional song structures dissolving into tone-poems, til they hang suspended on a viola note, only to rise once more into vast elegiac expanses conjured by ethereal, fuzzed out guitar treatments, Rob’s voice singing half-remembered melodies from a dream going round and round your mind in an indefinite soulful yearning on final track “The End”, waking up from a dream of it all so meaningful and strange it can’t translate into the waking world, and collapses on contact with reality, slipping like sand through your fingers...

“My head’s away in clouds of thoughts and imagination,”Rob muses, “but I’m driven to be as real and authentic as I possibly can musically, trying to push forward and harness all I’ve got; it was never really a choice, but the only thing I ever felt I could do - to swim with the tide, accept your fate, ride the waves. I’m a shy person but on stage my guitar leads me to a place of innate confidence, so I guess that’s where I’m most comfortable”.


The Deaf Institute
135 Grosvenor St, Manchester M1 7HE, UK