Today, I delve into the underground world of another promising alternative art-rock project, Adrian Marksman. His latest studio album, Ultrasigil, was my focus today, released in 2022.
Adrian Marksman, A Great Thing (Official Audio)
Adrian Marksman came to my attention about a week ago with his latest album. During this time, I’ve developed a picture heavily characterized by underground qualities, embracing dirtiness, edginess, messiness, and complexity on the musical side. Today, I spent my Friday morning listening to Ultrasigil several times on different mediums, which ultimately led me to revisit some retro rock classics by Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, and Muse. It’s also worth mentioning that after finishing my Ultrasigil listening session, Spotify introduced me to a promising post-rock band called Lost in Kiev for a good reason where I thoroughly enjoyed the transition.
First and foremost, Ultrasigil stands out for its retro sound character, drawing heavy inspiration from the 70s to 90s rock in all its variety, ranging from art to grunge, post-rock to alternative, and from prog-rock to gothic, both musically and in terms of sound production. However, the main distinguishing factor for me was the level of underground qualities it possesses.
On the musical side, I can clearly hear potential. Adrian Marksman, in this project, assumes the role of a one-man orchestra; handling composition, writing, recording, performing, and production work from start to finish. He explored the retro territories of rock, seamlessly blending influences from the classics of that era. His vocal tone immediately reminded me of the legendary Mick Jagger, while his artsy character of Alice Cooper, poetic performance evoked shades of Lou Reed, particularly from his collaborative work with Metallica, “Lulu.” In fact, Adrian goes even further and also explores gothic, alternative, prog, and grunge rock, adding another layer of depth to his rich personal concept.
I’d also like to touch on the fourth track, “A Great Thing,” which took me by surprise. The concept here is heavily influenced by The Rolling Stones, accompanied by elements reminiscent of the 80s and 90s. What these eras share is a compactness that makes them fantastic in the first place. In my perspective, one of the reasons why The Rolling Stones are undeniably legendary is their unique approach to artistic interpretation. This was also why I revisited “Anybody Seen My Baby” after listening to “A Great Thing”; and that made me believe they share something in common. Although this was the highlight of my listening experience, it also underscored the hidden potential within the work.
Adrian Marksman, Artist PhotoPhoto credit: Unknown
On the other side of the story, the sound characterization and production not only played a decisive role in my overall experience but also posed a notable challenge. I recall feeling discomfort during all my listening sessions, as if something was prodding at my ears every few seconds, persistently reminding my brain of its presence. Sonically, the album failed to resonate with me primarily due to specific decisions made in this regard.
Also, the sound of the album displayed a level of extremeness, featuring impreciseness, loudness, and an unbalanced perspective that remained my main concerns throughout. Here, we have a vocalist with potential, set against what could be described as the shakiest sound balancing in the history of music. Honestly, I struggle to come up with a valid reason behind this choice. As someone who has dedicated a lifetime to music, it’s my belief that Adrian might be totally unaware of the potential he could achieve by collaborating with an established, professional producer someday. That’s my honest assessment.
Moreover, I didn’t really enjoy hearing so much impreciseness throughout the album, which is one of its defining characteristics. Performances and instrumentals highlighted a significant amateur spirit in the mix, yet made it sound rather sloppy simultaneously. Although I genuinely enjoyed the live performing energy and appreciated it, the sound didn’t compel me to listen to it any further.
Adrian Marksman, Ultrasigil (2022) album front cover artworkArt credit: Unknown
Ultimately, my experience has been a positive one only after going into the details and giving the music enough time to make its magic. An unapologetically underground-sounding album with retro rock qualities and artistic potential, incorporating art, gothic, alternative, and grunge rock influences in its concept. Thank you for reading.
Adrian Marksman on the Web
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