Some might argue that an album review should seek to inform its audience in what circumstances it might be best to listen to the record. So let us begin by saying that you might put this on whilst giving your partner a massage; or possibly on your earphones whilst in a deckchair on a cruise ship.

Now, the more quick witted amongst you will have noticed that, once commenced upon, both of these activities are much more boring than you thought they would be when you agreed to do them in the first place. And either can be improved immeasurably with some easy to listen to background music.

And perhaps that’s a bit of a back-handed compliment to Puzzle Muteson’s latest long player offering En Garde because - and here’s getting to the nub of the review fairly early on – for all the beauty, fragility, elegance and serenity, it’s all a bit one paced. The only time the pulse of En Garde dares to quicken is during the track that shares the album’s name and then only most briefly. Otherwise it sails along through seas that may be individually beautiful but all look pretty much alike. Which is great for cruises see?

Puzzle Muteson hails from the Isle of Wight – famous for spawning milkman turned uber-bassist Mark King. But this sounds more Scandinavian than Level 42 and that’s in small part due to Icelandic producer Valgeir Sigurðsson, who has secured his own Wikipedia page mainly for his work with firework impressionist Bjork. Valgeir has strung a thread of atmosphere through every song. Allied with Puzzle Muteson’s often breathless and broken vocals there is a gracefulness to be found throughout especially on opening track I Was Once a Horse (which does appear to have the lyrics “I was once a horse, you were once a whore” which would be utterly brilliant but is probably not actually what Puzzle sings).

Enjoy the tracks on this record but prepare to be disappointed if you’re looking for collection of tracks with any discernible shape to it. This won’t take you on a journey, but it’s an okay soundtrack to accompany one.

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