Robert Paul Corless has spent the best part of three decades cultivating a reputation as one of Manchester’s most prolific and intriguing musicians and producers. After making a name for himself as the front-man of the much-loved underground collective Gabrielle’s Wish, he has released around 30 albums in three years as a solo artist. This has led to him exploring ever-more experimental paths in the process – collaborating with spoken word artists and producer & re-mixer Arkestar.
All this more recent output has been released through Eromeda Records, but back in the mid-90s when Gabrielle’s Wish got started, it was former Joy Division and New Order manager Rob Gretton who first recognised the band’s talent.
After hearing them play just a handful of times following a recommendation from Martin Hannett’s engineer, Chris Nagle, Gretton swiftly signed them. This original lineup saw Corless joined by Nick Harris (drums), Darren Moran (bass) and Paul Ryan (guitar) – who had quickly gone from playing the working men’s clubs of Clayton to demanding the attention of a Manchester legend.
Sadly the deal Gabrielle’s Wish signed with Gretton, which included the release of their debut LP, never really came to fruition. Firstly, the Hacienda closed, which led to cash-flow difficulties with the label. Then, even more tragically, Gretton sadly died from a heart attack aged just 46 in 1999.
The band decided they needed to move on and as a result their debut album Processed was shelved for more than a decade. A year later, however, Gabrielle’s Wish again found themselves alongside a Manchester luminary in the shape of Andrew Robinson, who has set up Pleasure Records after managing Bernard Sumner.
They then explored a more electronic sound, with the brooding soundscapes created by the likes of Brian Eno proving a rich influence. ext came the releases of ‘Portal’ and ‘Reformer’, put out by DIY labels Path Records and Small Adjustments – following the collapse of Pleasure.
The releases gained attention from Membranes front-man and Louder Than War editor, John Robb, but were followed by the band’s first big lineup change when Paul Ryan left. He was replaced by former Northside guitarist Tim Walsh Jr and his brother, Bo, on drums. After Tim had to leave due to other commitments, he was replaced by Steven Bunn – a guitarist who could not have been more different to Ryan, but seemed to fit in perfectly with the band’s then lineup.
In the time that has followed, Gabrielle’s Wish have released another six albums through Eromeda Records, often veering more and more towards the experimental. The EP Debunking the Myth of Being a Slave and the single ‘Round the Twist (My Name is Earth)’ came in 2016 around the same time as a star-studded documentary about the band – A Kind of Existence – The Gabrielle’s Wish Story.
From there to the current day, Gabrielle’s Wish still remains an ongoing project for Robert, but it is the truly prolific nature of his solo work that has dominated his time since then. His slew of 30 solo releases over three years have taken on a huge range of influences, veering between whatever artistic visions take hold of him. The uniform-like categorisation of these albums, entitled only by ‘Volume…’ puts the focus completely on the music, leaving them open to interpretation by the listener.
Robert’s workrate shows no signs of slowing, meaning whether it be via Gabrielle’s Wish or his solo work, his next piece of music is never far around the corner.
Biography kindly produced by Patrick Davies of Far Out Magazine.