Nick Robinson: Lost Garden

Guitarist and sometime origamist Robinson might describe his music as ambient but it contains lots of dynamic variation


Guitarist Nick Robinson’s musical life began as a member of the Polydor-signed rock group Typhoon Saturday (née Red Zoo) and continued with post-punk bands Comsat Angels, Dig Vis Drill and also with jazz composer Neil Ardley. However, abandoning hopes of becoming a rock star, he turned instead to a career in origami. That proved very successful, and he’s written over 100 books on the subject.

But Robinson has certainly not given up on music, as this solo album attests. He’s also a member of prog-ish improvisers Das Rad with Martin Archer and Steve Dinsdale and has played on over 50 albums to date.

The vestiges of rock music have remained close to him as his electric (and acoustic) guitar outings on Lost Garden reveal. The opener Hushful Point oscillates between Frippertronics-like calm and frenetic overdriven fuzzy interspersions. There’s even a playful allusion to this Frippian soundscaping with the track titled Trip-O-Phonix. Toccata Apologetica starts with a lyrical fingerpicked tune, overlaid with Dave Gilmour-ish legato lines but then ends with a more urgent cascade of ascending notes.

Robinson’s album is characterised by overdubs of guitars, variously treated with an assortment of electronic effects, often accompanied by loops. There’s also a tendency to shift back and forth from quiet passages to louder, more intrusive ones as with the simple echoey, chord strumming on Zitterig.

Lebensfaltung has a semblance of minimalism, evoking shades of Terry Riley and Philip Glass. On Silver Streams Of Sorrow Robinson’s guitar evinces carefully controlled ghostly feedback as an embellishment over a fingerpicked vamp. The final track, Bunting Nook, is an 18-minute tour de force in which Robinson energetically throws everything bar the kitchen sink into the mix.

Whilst Robinson might describe his music as ambient, it’s actually a pleasure to hear highly disciplined yet enthralling guitar pieces so painstakingly realised.

Hushful Point; Cautious Tragic; Toccata Apologetica; Zitterig; Three Vices; Trip-O-Phonix; Unmixed Pretentions; Lebensfaltung; Silver Streams Of Sorrow; Acrostic; Bunting Nook (77.49)
Robinson (g, elg, loops, elec). Sheffield, 2021.
Discus 126CD