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Peter Broderick can hardly be accused of slouching at any stage of his musical career. He has produced 15 solo projects in the last 8 years, collaborating along the way on a mammoth 3-year project with Nils Frahm, touring with Efterklang and still finding time to soundtrack a number of films and release limited-edition CD-Rs of his piano scores. No wonder he was feeling a little exhausted after the release of his last record for Bella Union in 2012 (the aforementioned Frahm collaboration), It Starts Hear. After struggling to recreate the required sounds on stage ('fog drone' is listed as one of the instruments used in the liner notes), Broderick cancelled all upcoming dates and retreated to his native Oregon, hospitalised with a stress-related illness.

After a considerable break (by Broderick's standards, at least), Colours of the Night represents his return to music, and more specifically, a return to the singer-songwriter guise he so successfully mined on 2008's well-received Home and 2010's How They Are (both also Bella Union releases). This time, however, he is not alone. Accepting an invitation to a musical residency in the Swiss city of Lucerne, Broderick seems to have loosened his self-imposed reins. Having previously played and produced nearly everything on his solo efforts, Colours was recorded with a backing band of Swiss-based musicians and produced by Timo Keller, a producer mainly known for his involvement in the local hip-hop scene.

Musically Colours recalls the innovative and deeply personal sonic adventurings of songwriters like Peter Gabriel, Mark Hollis and - especially on the Afro-tinged title track - Graceland-era Paul Simon. On the evidence of the first few tracks, it seems like a brilliant idea to start down this route. But whereas Gabriel, Hollis and co. often used expansive and experimental arrangements to enhance a distinctive lyrical vocabulary, the latter element is unfortunately lacking here. 'One Way' is the biggest culprit, featuring a strange countdown sequence with spoken word interjections ("getting closer!") which feels completely out of sync with the rest of the record. One overt reference to Graceland could be passed off as a charming quirk; two begins to grate somewhat, and it is not the only example of a distracting lyrical carelessness: "I don't need a thing to spread my wings and fly / But I just ask a bird to do it for me / So I could spend this time on the ground with you" from 'On Time' feels awkward too.

However, Colours does not lack for enjoyable moments - the chorus of 'Get On With Your Life' is rich with vocal harmony, sensitively arranged and pretty catchy to boot. And 'More and More' builds to an affectingly woozy brass climax not dissimilar to that of Radiohead's 'Living In A Glass House' - and it also features one of Broderick's best vocal performances to date. There are also scattered moments of beautiful calm which recall his more ambient / classical early works; ironically the most successful passages occur when Broderick takes centre stage again.

Perhaps inevitably, given its unusual gestation, Colours of the Night lacks consistency; one feels that by Broderick may have loosened those creative reins too much and let too many outside influences in at once. Colours is not a bad record, far from it. It does, however, feel like an experiment that has gone slightly out of control; exhilarating and dazzling at times, worrying at others. Broderick is a fearless musician, one who is interested and invested in the process of creating sound; this album doesn't quite hold together as an end result, but that won't stop him trying again - and it certainly shouldn't stop us listening.

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