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Blades of Battenberg
Summer of 1910

PAUL ROLAND House of Dark Shadows

CD album | gg210
Paul Roland is a singer-songwriter, author, journalist and paranormal researcher. Since the release of his first single Oscar Automobile in 1979 Roland has been spinning his tales against a backdrop of gothic rock, psych-pop, folk and, occasionally, baroque strings. His character creations include a Regency magistrate, various 19th Century murderers, a retired executioner, an opium addict, and an entire court of medieval grotesques. Paul has been called 'the male Kate Bush' by one-time label mate Robyn Hitchcock, and 'The Lord Byron of Rock' by influential French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles. House of Dark Shadows came out in Germany (only) in 1985. Originally a compilation album of the first album and some singles, it is seen by many as one of Paul's strongest records ever. It features classic songs like "Blades of Battenburg" "Captian Blood" or "Death or Glory". For this first proper re-issue on CD, we have re-installed the original artwork. The album has been remastered for this edition, and as if this weren't enough, we have added five previously unreleased songs from Paul's archive. A milestone in dark-themed rock music coming back to life.

Originally a German only release back in 1985 it collects tracks from Paul's first album along with an assortment of singles whilst also adding five essential and previously unreleased bonus tracks. Roland's music should need no introduction but for any uninitiated listeners, his is a back catalogue of psych riches that range from baroque, string filled tales of wonder, whimsy and terror to full on lysergic garage rock. 'House Of Dark Shadows' contains several of Paul's immediate classics such as the ominous, synth-accentuated anthem 'Blades Of Battenburg' and the chamber psych pop of 'Burnt Orchids'. The mastering is exemplary. These tracks (some roughly thirty years old) sound crystal clear and Roland’s richly textured and detailed mini-symphonies sound immediate, resonant and powerful. (...) All of Roland’s catalogue is highly recommended and it is gratifying to see some of his earlier work being presented in such a considerate and thoughtful manner. For fans this album will be essential on account of the unreleased material; for others it offers an excellent introduction to one of the UK's finest and most individual songwriters.
(The Active Listener, February 2016)

If you do not own the original version of the Pastell LP or the reprint CD on French label New Rose of this Paul Roland compilation, this could be an excellent opportunity to hear a compendium of his first mini album associated to an assortment of the first singles, stuff that has passed almost unnoticed when it came out but, in retrospect, really valuable. It is, in short, a sort of antechamber and introduction to what would eventually be a psychedelic production of consummate value and that still does not seem, although with a slight pause, to interrupt, and already containing the ingredients of the following work: Gothic stories, Baroque tales and Victorian novels, mystery, horror and terror, all seasoned with folk sounds, lysergic and psychedelic, sometimes enriched with exquisite string arrangements. Peculiarities of this new edition are five previously unreleased tracks on which it is worth pausing a moment. The first is Midwych, with almost longed voice and a sweet and delicate xylophone in the background. It follows Shiloh, acoustic ballad with organ and guitar in folk colors. Then there is Versailles, with sounds and melodies of the classical Pauls style, a song that would not at all disfigured in one of his mini LPs. And yet Count Magnus, gloomy but at the same time dreamy, with its tolling of bells. Finally Summer of 1910, almost a military march, even this one beautifully arranged.
(, April 2016)