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“Monumental” is a big word. Not a word to be bandied about lightly. But here it is. And there’s no way around it. “Monumental” was the first word that sprang to mind when I heard Reza Dinally’s debut album “Depths of Montmartre”. Weeks later, it’s still there, refusing to budge. Fear not, though. I don’t mean “monumental” in the sense of dark Stalin statues and pompous prog.-rock work-outs. What I do mean is “monumental” in the sense of a rock - immovable, timeless, and impossible to climb without leaving behind some sweat and skin.


Those who remember Reza Dinally as a troubadour armed only with an acoustic guitar and a voice to melt stone, will receive a mighty surprise when they hear “Depths of Montmartre”. For his first full album, Dinally and his band have forged a massive sound that appears even bigger than it really is because of the slow and deliberate pace of the music. The songs are allowed all the time in the world to breathe and unfold. And yet, despite the white hot intensity, the album moves with an effortless grace. It exudes a rare sense of warmth, lightness and light. A wealth of detail serves to achieve this effect: quicksilver piano runs, subtle touches of percussion, cheekily counter-instinctive drumming, a vapour-like hint of strings, plus, once or twice, the light and easy breeze of an acoustic guitar. And, of course, that voice.
The story of the creation of “Depths of Montmartre” begins with the happy accident of finding the perfect producer. Reza had already decided that he wanted to record his debut far away from his normal stomping ground, in a place devoid of distractions where he would be able to concentrate solely on the music. As a fan of the Irish singer Gemma Hayes he had taken note of the name Dave Odlum, her producer. Odlum – previously guitarist with the Irish band the Frames – was now the in-house engineer at Blackbox Studio in Noyant la Gravoyere, France. In July 2012, the Reza Dinally band travelled to Brittany for a two week recording session. Things didn’t go to plan. By the end, Reza – “torn apart and desperate” – had learned two things: “Firstly: definitely not like this. And second ly: with David Odlum, definitely”! Odlum, hired as an engineer, could have watched from the corner as his clients ripped each other to shreds. Instead, he quietly and unobtrusively began to act as a “travel guide”. “Because we were a young band who didn’t really know our own direction he began to lead us in a direction he felt would suit us.” says Dinally. “It took a while for me to realise that this was exactly the direction I would have wanted to follow if only I had realised it.”
Back home, Reza decided to start from scratch. This time, Odlum would officially act as the producer. He was invited to the band’s rehearsal room in Zurich so he could make sure they set off in the right direction from the start. In June 2013 everyone met up once again in Brittany. This time, the sessions turned out very differently. Reza Dinally would have no complaints if anyone were to compare his music to Peter Gabriel or Talk Talk, he says. Elliott Smith might serve as another pointer. Ultimately, however, “Depths of Montmar tre” sounds like nothing but Reza Dinally.
-Hanspeter Künzler


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