A baggy and Britpop survivor and a venerable experimental composer don’t make natural bedfellows, which is precisely what makes the union of Charlatans singer Burgess and former Arthur Russell collaborator Gordon so beguiling. A leap out of their respective comfort zones has produced something really different. Opening track Begin, a New Order-esque electro melody with rattling drum machines, sails close to pop. However, the album unfolds into avant garde, electronic and saxophone soundscapes – with nods to Bowie’s Berlin period and Eno’s Another Green World – over which Burgess’s vocals float like a gentle breeze. Tracks of My Past finds the Northwich-turned-Norwich resident hazily reminiscing about childhood summers. The piano-led Oh Men is one of the loveliest things he’s sung in years. There’s nothing for fans of the Charlatans’ trademark surging anthems, but the strangely beautiful Ocean Terminus, a seven-minute, distant echo of Eno’s Julie With …, wherein Burgess sings of the joys of being “carried away by the sea”, is a treasure.
Dave Simpson is a Guardian music critic and author