TOUCHING THE VOID-LOVE, LONGING AND LOSS.

TOUCHING THE VOID-LOVE, LONGING AND LOSS.

Andy Oppenheimer and Mark Warner formed Touching The Void back in 2010. Two years later, Touching The Void released their debut single Parallel Lives, in 2012. It was well received by critics. Great things were forecast for Touching The Void. 

So, a year later, in 2013, Touching The Void released their debut E.P. Obsession. It was released to critical acclaim. Surely it wouldn’t be long before Touching The Void released their debut album?

That wasn’t the case. A year passed, and still, there was no sign of Touching The Void’s long awaited debut album. Soon, a year became two. However, the good news is the wait is almost over. Love, Longing and Loss Touching The Void’s debut album will be released on SubCulture Records on 22nd May 2015. However, there’s a reason for the near three year wait. Touching The Void is just one part of Andy Oppenheimer and Mark Warner’s lives.

Music has been part of Andy and Mark’s lives for over thirty years. However, while Mark has been a career musician, Andy’s life has taken a few twists and turns along the way. The pair met in 2010. By then, the pair had sixty years of musical experience behind them.

Mark Warner is the elder statesman of Touching The Void. His career began in 1978, when he joined The Firm, becoming their guitarist. That’s where Mark served his musical apprenticeship. Four years later, Mark was on the move.

In 1982, Mark joined Sudeten Creche as their guitarist, keyboardist and songwriter. Sudeten Creche had been formed two years earlier in 1980, by Yvette Döll. She was then joined by Paul Carlin. Other associate members would later join the band. This included Mark in 1982.

Having joined Sudeten Creche in 1982, Mark cowrote Are Kisses out of Fashion?, which featured on the Europe In The Year Zero E.P.  It also featured Yazoo’s Goodbye 70s. The Europe In The Year Zero E.P. reached number forty-three in the British charts. A year later,  in 1983, Sudeten Creche, released another E.P. 

The Kindergarden E.P was released in 1983. Mark cowrote Dance with Paul Carlin and Yvette Döll. Although he had only been a member of Sudeten Creche since 1982, Mark was playing an important role in the band. However, his time with was at an end.

Later in 1983, Mark joined The Virgin Brides as lead guitarist and drummer. For the next two years, Mark was a member of The Virgin Brides. However, in 1985, Mark left The Virgin Brides.

Having left The Virgin Brides in 1985, Mark’s next band was World Gone Mad. He joined World Gone Bad in 1987, and was a member until 1988. Another four years passed before Mark joined another band.

For Mark, it was a case of feast or famine. He joined Miles From Luton in 1992 and was a member until 1993, when he joined Tokyo Rose.

Mark was a member of Tokyo Rose for the next four years. He joined in 1993, and spent four years with the band. However, in 1994, Mark joined Three Fiddlers Not. 

So between 1994 and 1997, Mark was dividing his time between Tokyo Rose and Three Fiddlers Not. However, in 1997, Mark left Tokyo Rose. This allowed him to concentrate on Three Fiddlers Not. Then in 1998, Mark left Three Fiddlers Not.

After leaving Three Fiddlers Not, Mark was still immersed in music. In 2006, he reformed Sudeten Creche. They released their comeback single Wounds, in 2007. A year later, Sudeten Creche released the first of two E.P.s. A Kiss From The Creche was released in 2008, with Are Kisses Out Of Fashion? following in 2009. However, just as Sudeten Creche were hitting the comeback trail, further opportunities arose for Mark.

By 2010, Mark was looking for a new musical vehicle. That was the year that Touching The Void was born. So was Rossetti’s Compass.

It was in Berlin in 2010, that Rossetti’s Compass was born. Mark was working with Andy Oppenheimer of Oppenheimer Analysis and Touching The Void. The third member of Rossetti’s Compass was the late Mark Warner. For the next two years Mark used Rossetti’s Compass to explore Mark Warner was keen to explore the wider EBM scene. However, it was Sudeten Creche that paid the bills. That was until late 2012.

As 2012 drew to a close, Mark split from Sudeten Creche. So, he turned his attention to Rossetti’s Compass and Touching The Void. 

Touching The Void released their debut single Parallel Lives, in 2012. Parallel Lives was well received by critics. It looked like Touching The Void were going places. However, 2013 would be an important year for Touching The Void, and Rossetti’s Compass.

2013 was one of the busiest years of Mark’s thirty-five year musical career.  Rossetti’s Compass released their debut E.P. Tear Garden in March 2013. It featured a new lineup of the band. Per Aksel Lundgreen, who previously, was a member of the critically acclaimed Norwegian band, Apoptygma Berzerk joined Rossetti’s Compass. Mark and Per wrote and recorded Tear Garden, which caught the attention of critics upon its release. So, did Rossetti’s Compass’ sophomore E.P.

The release of Rossetti’s Compass sophomore  E.P. My Beloved, saw the band become a trio. Martin Bowes became the third member of the band. He arrived in time for the release of My Beloved in August 2013, which was a busy month for Mark Warner.

Not only had Mark been busy with Rossetti’s Compass, but he and Andy Oppenheimer had been working on Obsession, Touching The Void’s debut E.P.  It was also released in August 2013. Critical acclaim accompanied its release. Great things were forecast for Touching The Void. Surely they would begin work on their debut album? Now was the time. Not quite.

Rossetti’s Compass had agreed to released The Cage Sessions, a semi-live album. It was released in November 2013. The new lineup of Rossetti’s Compass was augmented by John Costello, Martin Bowes’ partner in Engram. He added vocals to The Cage Sessions, which was released in November 2013. With The Cage Sessions behind him, surely Touching The Void could begin work on their debut album. That would depend on Andy Oppenheimer.

Just like Mark, Andy Oppenheimer has a busy career. However, unlike Mark, Andy enjoys a parallel career. His “other” jobs include working as author, analyst and lecturing in counter-terrorism. Andy Oppenheimer you’ll realise, is no ordinary singer-songwriter. Maybe once, but not now. 

Andy Oppenheimer was born in Leeds in 1953, and in 1974, graduated from Liverpool University. By the early eighties, Andy had formed synth-pop duo Oppenheimer Analysis with producer Martin Lloyd. However, unlike Mark, music wasn’t going to become Andy’s full-time career. 

Throughout the eighties and nineties, Andy worked as a researcher. His research included  nuclear weapons, the Cold War and the I.R.A. Twenty years later, in 2008, Andy wrote a book on the I.R.A. By then, Andy was a renowned and respected academic.

For the last thirty years, Andy Oppenheimer has contributed to academic studies, worked as a lecturer and written for various defence journals. This makes Andy an unlikely musician. However, in 2005, Andy reformed Oppenheimer Analysis.

Not long after reforming, Oppenheimer Analysis released an E.P. of their early music. It was released on the New York based Minimal Wave label. Two further singles were released by Oppenheimer Analysis. 

Five years later, in 2010, and Oppenheimer Analysis released their eponymous single. Science/Washington followed in 2011. Then in 2013, Oppenheimer Analysis released their long awaited their long awaited  album, The Presence of the Abnormal as Oppenheimer MkII. It had been a longtime coming. However, it proved to be a bittersweet moment as Martin Lloyd died in 2013. The Oppenheimer Analysis’ story was over. However, a new chapter in Andy’s musical career had just begun.

Three years earlier, Andy and Mark Warner had formed Touching The Void. They released their debut single Parallel Lives, in 2012. It was well received by critics.A year later, in 2013, Touching The Void released their critically acclaimed debut E.P. Obsession. However, since then, nothing has been heard of Touching The Void…until now.

On 22nd May 2015, Touching The Void will release their debut album Love, Longing and Loss. It features fourteen tracks. There’s nine tracks from Touching The Void, plus five remixes on Love, Longing and Loss, which I’ll tell you about. 

Fittingly, Parallel Lives, Touching The Void’s 2012 debut single opens Love, Longing and Loss. It’s a hauntingly beautiful ballad. The piano lead arrangement is sparse. This is the perfect accompaniment to Andy’s vocal. He plays the part of a stay at home husband, as his wife a soldier, goes away to defend her country. Andy’s admiration is obvious. He feels proud and afraid, afraid he’ll loose the woman he loves. 

Crystalline synths opens Obsession. Soon, a buzzing bass synth grabs your attention. Andy’s vocal is slow and moody. There’s an element of darkness and menace in his vocal. So much so, his Obsession seems real.

In This Together originally gave Stephan Groth of Norwegian band Apoptygma Berzerk a hit single. Here, Touching The Void give the song a makeover. The arrangement is stripped bare. Just a piano and backing vocals accompany Andy’s vocal. His vocal sounds not unlike Morrissey. He delivers a vocal full of emotion and desperation. His relationship if falling apart and he’s desperate to save it. That’s apparent when pleadingly he sings: “don’t you see, we’re in this together, it’s you and me, one-on-one forever.” Later, strings are added. They add a melancholy sound, as Touching The Void reinvent In This Together, transforming the song into a beautiful soul-baring ballad.

Just a lone piano plays as Fragment unfolds. A synth buzzes in, and a roll of drums interject. Gradually, the pounding arrangement on Love, Longing and Loss unfolds. When Andy’s vocal enters, it’s full of hurt and heartbreak. His vocal is full of despair, as he sings of the love he lost. So meaningful is Andy’s delivery, it’s as if he’s loved, lost and lived to tell the tale on this anthemic track.

Banks of synths and drums machines provide the musical backdrop to Andy’s vocal on Inspiration. It’s song about how some people worship power. This is apparent in the song as Andy sings of it “becoming my Inspiration,” and “the villain of my mind.” Again, Andy breaths meaning and emotion into the lyrics, while the synths and drums machines accompany him. They provide a timeless accompaniment, to Andy and Mark’s cautionary tale about power.

The piano lead Highbury Fields is a ballad about living in London. It’s another song that Andy and Mark cowrote. As Mark plays the piano, Andy paints pictures about life in Highbury Fields. As the song unfolds, ethereal synths and then drums are added. They add an element of drama. Later, strings, like the ethereal synths, add to the beauty of the song. It’s without doubt one of the highlights of Love, Longing and Loss.

The synths on I’ll Be Here have an eighties influence. They work well though, underpinning Andy’s vocal. He tells the story of a friend whose fallen in love. Andy knew it wouldn’t last. That’s the case. So, Andy extends the hand of friendship. “Whatever you decide, I’ll be there for you.” Behind him, the synths frame Andy’s vocal, while the drums provide the heartbeat on this tale of betrayal and heartbreak

Love, Longing And Loss is a heartachingly beautiful ballad. Fittingly, the arrangement is understated, allowing Andy’s vocal to take centre-stage. It’s like a confessional as he songs: “I’d love to be near you, I’m longing to see you and I’m lost here without you.” In three lines, Andy brings together the themes that run through the album. Later, as Andy’s vocal drops out, Mark’s synth proves the perfect replacement. It sets the scene for Andy’s pleading, needy, hopeful vocal.

Then And Now closes Love, Longing And Loss. Woodblocks give way to a thunderous drums and washes of synths. Slowly, and gradually, the arrangement unfolds. When Andy’s vocal enters, it sounds vulnerable. His vocal is full of emotion and sadness as he wonders: “where did our love go, miss it every day?”

The other five tracks on Love, Longing And Loss consist of remixes. There’s two remixes of Obsession, plus remixes of Then and Now, Fragment and In This Together. These remixes bring something new to the original tracks. Sometimes, they take the track in  a new direction. Other times, they stick closely to the original. Thankfully, there’s no cases of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That’s a mistake many remixers make. Rather than remix a track, they rebuild it from the ground up. Not here. That would be a step too far, as the original songs are very special.

That’s the case throughput Love, Longing And Loss. Each and every one of the tracks oozes quality. There’s no filler whatsoever. Instead, each of the nine songs are like short stories, where you experience Love, Longing And Loss. Sometimes, you experience two or more of these themes. The songs seem very real. It’s as if Andy Oppenheimer and Mark Warner have drawn on personal experience. As a result, the lyrics come to life. 

Especially with Andy Oppenheimer delivering them. Whether it’s love, love lost, hurt, longing, admiration, empathy or Obsession Andy makes it seem very real. Meanwhile, Mark Warner who produced, recorded and mixed Love, Longing And Loss, creates a musical backdrop for Andy’s vocal. Together, as Touching The Void, they form a potent partnership. Andy and Mark it seems, are like a musical yin and yang. 

That’s despite being an unlikely musical partnership. Mark is a career musician. Music is all he’s ever known, whereas Andy is an author, analyst and lecturer in counter-terrorism. Although they’re an unlikely musical partnership, Love, Longing And Loss, Touching The Void’s long-awaited debut album has been well worth the wait. Love, Longing And Loss will be released on Subculture Records on 22nd May 2015. It’s an album I can’t recommend highly enough.

That why, come 22nd May 2015, I’d recommend adding a copy of Love, Longing And Loss, Touching The Void’s long-awaited, and highly anticipated debut album to your music collection.  Love, Longing And Loss is a hauntingly beautiful, captivating and soul-baring album from Touching The Void; where they sensitively, and thoughtfully, explore the the themes of Love, Longing And Loss.

TOUCHING THE VOID-LOVE, LONGING AND LOSS.

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