Robert Paul Corless ‘The Man and his Music’
I first met Robert in 2005. His group Gabrielle’s Wish had just released a new EP and for some years before that, I’d been going to see the band live. The music was intoxicating, but I and many of my friends who went to see Gabrielle’s Wish at the time, were transfixed by Robert’s unique and intense live performances.
So in 2005, I went backstage and Robert, who was a polite gentleman, said he was exhausted, no doubt in a bid to get rid of me.
I’d been trying to tell him that if I could be of help; I’d be only too glad to do so.
As I was about to leave, he told me to meet him the next day at ‘Butterfly Music Co’, the HQ of Gabrielle’s Wish, as well as being a thriving hub of many Manchester-based groups and solo artists, overseen by Tim Walsh Snr.
I kept my appointment and knocked on the glass door, as it was after 6pm and the place was locked-up for the day. As I looked through the glass door, I could see a set of stairs leading down to the basement and another flight of stairs leading further up into the building. I knocked again and this time a lad in his late teens appeared from the basement, dressed in the brightest yellow T-Shirt I’ve ever seen. He opened the door and I told him I was there to see Robert.
“Oh right. Cool yeah, he’s upstairs in the monitor room. Just go up, mate.”
The lad then locked the door behind me and disappeared back into the bowels of the building’s basement. I could hear EDM emanating from down there and I assumed he and others were rehearsing. I climbed the stairs and found myself on the middle floor. No sign of Robert though.
I then noticed yet another flight of stairs and arrived at a large live recording room and saw a door with soundproof padding on it.
The volume of the music would have made knocking a pointless exercise, so I opened the door and there sat at a mixing console with two speakers either side, was Robert. He must’ve sensed he wasn’t alone, because he spun around in his chair, stood up and shook my hand.
“Hiya brother, take a seat.”
Looking behind me, I saw a well-worn but comfortable two-seater couch.
He remembered that at the venue after his show, I’d said I managed a few unsigned groups and was willing to do what I could to help his band.
He told me he wanted nothing to do with the “internet” (he still doesn’t) and would I be able to help the band promote themselves online. I answered in the affirmative and within a month or so, the band had Social Media pages and their rare self-manufactured CD’s were now also available on all the popular download sites. Some weeks after that, I was invited for a beer to meet Darren Moran, the band’s bass player. He was a funny and easy-going guy and after a half hour chat it was my turn to get the drinks in. The bar was busy, but I could faintly hear what Darren and Robert were saying:
“What d’yer think Darren?”
“He seems alright, let’s see what he says.”
Not knowing what they were actually talking about, I brought the drinks to them and Robert said:
“What do you think about being our manager?”
I didn’t need asking twice and so began 14-years of handling the band’s gig bookings, getting the group music reviews and maintaining all the social websites, as well as going out with them when they played across the UK.
There are many tales of utter madness I could tell about those years, but those are for a different time and place.
Around 2013, Robert handed me some ‘solo’ music. He said he wanted to begin releasing them via Eromeda Records, the same way we’d been releasing the Gabrielle’s Wish EP’s and albums. Now, instead of waxing lyrical about what an asset and cult underground artist Robert is (besides, better writers than I have already done so on here) I thought I’d discuss the top five solo recordings by Robert that I believe are essential listening, in no particular order.
‘Conclusion’ from ‘Volume One’
Starting off with slowly creeping electronic notes that aren’t immediately menacing, we then hear an American voice which is difficult to decipher and as you try to pay attention to the voice to see if you can pick up any of what’s being said, some discordant Synth sounds overlap, giving the listener an uneasy feeling straight away. Just as the ear gets used to the developing soundscape, you’re suddenly jolted by three almost percussive stabs of noise.
The 11-minute track carries along this journey, taking left turns when you least expect it, and then around three-quarters of the way in, a rhythm emerges. It’s not quite dance, but it’s a complete departure from the surreal sounding notes that come before it. The build-up is masterful and well thought-out and by the end, you’re left wondering what on earth you’ve just experienced. ‘Volume One’ takes no prisoners and is certainly no casual ride through ambience. It’s also a rewarding experience, especially given the fact that the track ‘Conclusion’ is the album’s closing track.
‘Tintagel’ from ‘Volume Eight’
Simply beautiful from start to finish, Robert uses all manner of instrument sounds, to create a piece with a dream-like quality to it.
You feel completely safe in the composer’s hands, as he sweeps in and out with the bass synth notes. ‘Tintagel’ is an odd one in the vast array of Roberts work. Alas, it under-stays its welcome, clocking-in at three-minutes long. By the time it’s over, you’ll want to hear it again…and again…and, well you catch my drift.
‘Angel of the North’ from ‘Volume Twelve’
Volume Twelve marked a huge departure for Robert. Instead of albums full of weird and wonderful soundscapes with dance beats being the odd exception rather than the rule, Volume Twelve is a fully-fledged EDM album, complete with Guitars (courtesy of the late and hugely talented guitarist Tim Walsh, who incidentally played on the majority of Robert’s albums) and electronic beats, saxophone and all manner of instrumentation. The album itself is one that you can comfortably listen to without once pressing skip on any of the tracks.
Beginning with the sublime guitar work by Tim Walsh on ‘Gaillimh’, all the way to ‘The Great Whole’, the album is so well knitted together, it demands to be heard in full. ‘Angel of The North’ is about as close to a commercial track as I’ve ever heard from Robert’s solo albums. Pick any TV advert you want and ‘Angel of The North’ would nestle nicely in. It is dare I say it, an instrumental pop song and once you hear it, you can’t get it out of your mind.
‘Marys Stone’ from ‘Volume Sixteen’
Volume Sixteen is the darker sounding counterpart to Volume Twelve.
Whereas Volume Twelve was largely up-beat, many of the beat-laden songs on Volume Sixteen aren’t so happy-go-lucky sounding. Aside from ‘Mary’s Stone’, which builds-up beautifully with warm comforting synths and glistening guitar work from Tim Walsh. There’s even a harmonica in there if you listen hard enough. ‘Mary’s Stone’ is not just the best track on Volume Sixteen, in my opinion, I think the track is some of the best music Robert has ever composed.
Volumes Eighteen, Nineteen & Twenty
Robert decided to incorporate poets into his work and the results are stunning.
The albums were a trilogy, each with their own concept and musical design.
Volume Eighteen features urban poet Michael O’Neil, who spits out his anti-establishment lyrical content with all the Mancunian sounding venom he can muster. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Robert heard the hard-edged high-energy poetry of Michael O’Neil and then composed music around it.
The hard-edged industrial music came first and it no-doubt enabled the poet to get his anger out at the establishment.
Volume Nineteen is a different animal. This Volume features the poet Stephen Hunt and his more introspective words were no doubt inspired by the more reflective music Robert composes on the album. Aside from maybe ‘America Is Waiting’, beginning with a cheeky sounding laugh by Robert, as a big sounding dance beat floods the musical landscape.
Volume Twenty features French Poet Marion Mucciante, who delivers her poetry in French. The mood of Volume Twenty is more subdued, with wonderful female backing vocals. The music and poetry delivery marry perfectly. The trilogy of albums Robert released with the above mentioned poets are ‘Must Hear’ albums.
So, there you have them. The albums that I think anyone who seriously looking to find something new musically to enjoy, here you have it.
Having known Robert for 15-years, the one thing I know about him is this;
“There is a continual Orchestra playing inside Robert’s mind and as long as it plays, I’m sure he’ll continue to release awe-inspiring works of music, unlike any other I’ve ever heard.”
By Andrew James Barclay