Reviews and Awards

Reviews of The Spiral Sky album

FolkWords/May 2017

Inventive, idiosyncratic, inspirational – the work of Marvin B. Naylor has always beaten its own path through the expansive corridors of this thing called music – ‘The Spiral Sky’ is no exception. The melange moves through psych folk, expansive prog-effected explorations, experimental meanderings and pop-tinged echoes. As with all Naylor’s albums, there’s characteristic individuality that some will find hard to access while many will be pleased to exchange the mundane for Naylor’s brand of bizarre.

There’s a space-stimulated feel to this album, forged by multidimensional musical and layering of instrumentation, ‘Spaceships There Are’ sets the scene for such expectations, which continues with the faintly disquietingMoonsets Of Aerah’. There’s that familiar feeling of latent power to songs like ‘Brief Encounter’ and the catchy ‘Human God’ that steadily build from gentle beginnings to unanticipated crescendos. Always prepared to throw incongruity into the mix, Naylor delivers the delicate ‘Peter’s Place’ with (for Naylor) a more stripped back feel, the longing love in the pop-infused touch of ‘Ode To Peggy Christie’ and the singular ‘Talk Me To The Moon’. Closing with echoing piano ‘Second Movement’ follows the Naylor style of entering each song from left-field and adding layer after layer to reach the desired effect.

Not for all but for those in touch with Marvin B. Naylor’s world view, ‘The Spiral Sky’ reflects a man on his own particular journey of discovery – always evaluating, assessing and leaving you to draw your own conclusions.

Reviewer: Charlie Elland

 

 

The Progressive Aspect/May 2017

Marvin’s fingerstyle playing shines through on this release, the sound expanded via multilayered guitars and vocals, but that isn’t the whole story as other instrumentation is also added, all seemingly performed by Marvin himself. From the introductory chords, first track Spaceships There Are is crammed with wide-eyed enthusiasm and interesting additions to hold the attention in a rich and full sound that ends in a rockier vein. Marvin’s love of space and Sci-Fi is often prevalent in his work, the instrumental Moonsets Of Aerah featuring an interesting jangle with chord shards as accents.

Back down to Earth, the first rush of young love shines through in Ode To Peggy Christie, an energetic yet nostalgic romp, harmonica adding a Dylan edge while the whole remains resolutely English. Marvin is an old romantic at heart, but there’s an edge to Brief Encounter which opens woozily with off-kilter guitar phrases and a hint of Roy Harper before settling down into a picked support to the vocal melody, occasionally reminiscent of Genesis in their more pastoral moments with Steve Hackett on board. The multi-layering of guitars and vocals works up to a maelstrom with some heavier sounds before sliding into a beautifully realised solo piano recapitulation. Very interesting and one of the highlights. Another is Wondering Star, just mandolin and vocal to start, a jaunty melody with sweet asides. It builds as the various parts form an orchestral backing for the layered vocal, all very well executed.

Peter’s Place…nostalgic and warm with chiming 12-string, Marvin’s soft accent giving a personal touch. And is that an accordion in there to underline the French feel?

Marvin’s arrangements often forego traditional singer/songwriter styles, sometimes heading off in directions that the likes of The Flaming Lips might find appropriate. His songs are pleasant and accessible with folk and prog additions that give them depth, although the album’s titular reference to Black Sabbath’s Spiral Architect – a nod to Marvin’s youth when, as he says, “everything I listened to was HEAVY!” – doesn’t come through in the music. Other references do though and following on from the startling one man version of Space Oddity at Eppyfest, Human God is Marvin’s David Bowie tribute, utilising various Bowie lyrical notes to fine effect in an enjoyable toe-tapper.

The piano led Second Movement has an air of the old Hovis adverts, reminiscences of a time long gone. It’s a beautiful and sentimental melody that expands as more instruments appear, leading to a satisfying and quite lovely conclusion.

Reviewer: Jeremy Rowden

 

 

FATEA/April 2017

…Human God finds Naylor extending various Bowie-inspired lyrical themes into the music with flash fried references in the guitar tracks that in less able hands would sound ham fisted and more than a little gauche. Just as successful is Ode to Peggy Christie with its lush guitar shapes and skyscraping melody.

…there’s much in the latest offering from Planet Marvin to suggest the air is quite capable of sustaining a suspended seventh, the sound of life itself.

Reviewer: Nick Churchill

 

 

  FATEA review of the Human God EP July 22, 2016
 Marvin B Naylor is a bit of an enigma and when you begin to listen to his new e.p. Human God you will begin to understand why.He is an undoubtable genius, this is what you must understand initially. Seriously, a genius in the conventional sense.On first listen the title track, Human God, sounds like a standard pop song but when you dig a little deeper you may uncover some strange things. Certain lyrics appear familiar and then when you find out that Human God is a homage to the late David Bowie (it feels dreadful referring to him as “late”) it all starts to make sense.”Human God” is littered with references to Bowie tracks and even whispers of instrumental tributes in Marvin’s amazing guitar interlude. From the start “In the corner of the morning” (Width of a Circle) and as “Hermione read weeping” (Letter to Hermione) you are taken through an entire musical and lyrical history of one of the UK’s best songwriters. Lest we forget, dear reader, this is also a great pop song!

“Ode to Peggy Christie” gets us back on track with traditional Marvin B Naylor fayre. Back to the virtuoso layered 12 string guitar with it’s edgy yet resplendent chords that gives this love song a beautiful bitter sweet tone.

“Moonsets Of Aerah” is a wondrous instrumental soundscape of a song with Marvin’s trademark 12 string taking us on an sonic journey to who knows where? If you added early Genesis with the latest Radiohead album (Moon Shaped Pool at time of writing ) then you get some kind of idea what is going on here.

At three tracks “Human God” is the perfect “amuse bouche” if you are new to Marvin’s music and also a must have for the connoisseur.

Reviewer: Nick Tann

 

PSYCH TRAIL MIX (Issue 10, spring 2016) review of Earth And All The Universes album/Spaceships There Are single.
Earth & All The Universes: Marvin is quite the talented musician, playing multiple instruments himself, GREAT guitarist. Some really nice 12 string acoustic guitar work on here. Music is uplifting, – hearkening back to the great psych folk/rock of the 60’s/70’s. The – theremin really adds to the feeling here… mysterious sounds, and a fitting title as it feels mystical and sort of exploratory, often spaced out feeling mental spaces and places. Beautiful music, ethereal sounds that will run right into the ridges of your brain with – its vast diversity of swooping, whooshing, lush, layered soundscapes. On Spaceships we’ve got two great tracks. I love the line “ in the summer night” on the title track, which is perfect because in my brain it equates to crop circles/likely spots for UFO landings!
Reviewer: Brent Marley
 2016 Background Magazine review of Earth And All The Universes album/Spaceships There Are EP

Earth And All The Universes is the fourth studio album by multi-instrumentalist Marvin B. Naylor. All songs are written, played and produced by Marvin. He plays a variety of stringed instruments, piano, Theremin and also sings on most tracks, a real multitalented guy. Some percussion and additional production is done by Gary J. Brady

The music reminds me of the late 60s and early 70s semi-psychedelic pop music. The production also reminds me of the music from that era, a bit too much reverb for example, but somehow it really fits the music. The music itself is lovely. It contains a lot of acoustic guitar, mostly twelve string. The lyrics, however, are far from serious. They contain a lot of humour, which I really like and puts a smile on my face. You never know what to expect with each song. I can’t help it, but I sing along with some of the tracks (or at least hum along). 

The album starts with the track For Sleeping Angels. Marvin sings that you shouldn’t take life too seriously (Aha, will do, Marvin!). After one and a half minutes the song opens up and becomes slightly more filled with instruments. The Never Delivery Of Yesterday has a very happy and catchy chorus. The Pirouettist reminds me of music The Beach Boys made back in the day. This song contains no lyrics but Marvin sings and hums along with the music. Diaphenia is a gentle and calm track with Marvin playing a variety of guitars. Ballad In E Major is such a beautiful piano ballad. It makes me very emotional, no vocals, no other instruments, just piano. Little Bell starts as a sweet and soft song. Around 4 minutes the track slightly changes with a semi-haunting instrumental outro. The Photograph is a melancholic track. The Conversation is the shortest track on the album, which is also instrumental. The guitar playing reminds me a bit of Steve Hackett and Anthony PhillipsDeath Of A Centenarian starts as a slow track, but it opens up after 3,5 minutes with more instruments and choirs. Sadly the fade out starts too soon in my opinion, because when you’re finally in the mood to appreciate the complete song it starts to fade out. I Am A Summer Night is the longest track of the album. It’s quite a spooky song in the beginning, but after 2 minutes the songs gets a positive twist. You think the song is over after 7 minutes but not much later the track gets a bombastic reprise. 

Spaceships There Are is an EP containing two tracks (although the Bandcamp EP version has 4 tracks now). Expect the same music style as the album Earth And All The Universes. The title track Spaceships There Are is my favourite track from Marvin. I love the sound of the bass, the ambience of the song and the positive vibe it carries along. After 3,5 minutes it gets a surprising turn and becomes bombastic, including firm drums and guitar work. The bombastic part of the track only lasts half a minute and it becomes a calmer track again. Brief Encounter starts as a tender song, but after 2,5 minutes it gets very haunting for a short while. After 3,5 minutes the song ends with a lovely piece of piano. 

…I really enjoy his combination of humour and music style. If you like light psychedelic music that reminds you of warm and quiet summer days, then you should give both albums a listen! 

****+ (both) Iris Hidding (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

 

 

FATEA review of Spaceships There Are EP DECEMBER 2015
 I was hooked from the first chord!”Spaceships There Are” is an outstanding piece of music. It’s interweaving of chords and melodies are an assault on the senses. I made a note to listen again with headphones and I’m glad I did, you should.Wondering Star (track 2) begins simply with a mandolin and a vocal line, building in complexity soaring around the room, well it did in mine!

This is what Marvin appears to do best. His seemingly effortless arrangements are lovingly crafted, evolving into a kaleidoscope of layers and textures that display his obvious talents as a performer and producer.

Brief Encounter, the final track, gives me the feeling of being tossed around on a small boat in a turbulent ocean. Safe yet vulnerable.

There are echoes of The Beach Boys, Genesis and even The Beatles (Rubber Soul) but Marvin ploughs his own path and it’s a wonderful one.

“Spaceships There Are” is one of those CDs that you play to friends, with a wry smile on your face knowing that they are going to love it. I have done and they did!

Vincent

FolkWords Reviews

‘Spaceships There Are’ – Marvin B. Naylor – an EP to give Salvador Dali a run for his money

(November 14, 2015)


That somewhat eccentric exponent of left-field psych-influenced jazz-touched alternative folk, Marvin B. Naylor, has released a new EP. That it itself is cause for listening, just to discover what the creator of such idiosyncratic albums as ‘The Stargazer’s Symphonium’ and ‘Earth And All The Universes’ has come up with now. Well for starters, the EP ‘Spaceships There Are’ is as impossible to categorise and equally impenetrable, filled with bizarrely intricate soundscapes that blend jazz, rock, folk, psychedelia and surreal meandering. The airy vocals remain, as do the echoing choral effects, the layers of instrumentation built around soaring acoustic guitars and the explorative lyrics – the overriding impression is of aural surrealism, this is an album to give Salvador Dali a run for his money.

The experience begins with the title track, ‘Spaceships There Are’ coming at you from so many directions it makes your head swim as ethereal electronics sweep around acoustics, while vocals edge their way through the layers. The initially simplistic strings of ‘Wondering Star’ grow into a multi-level orchestral sweep with questioning ‘what is life’ vocals, while ‘Brief Encounter’ opens with a fairground calliope muse before falling into a soft piano echoing dream-like sequence of Floyd-esque sound-bending and twisting, before the final track reveals a jolly reverie of choral vocals with ‘The Pirouettist’.

Throughout I couldn’t help feeling that this EP should be the experimental soundtrack for an indie film, it certainly has that quality. As with his other offerings, this EP takes time, hearing once is not enough to break into the experience, which means that some may not bother, and that would be a shame. Website: marvinbnaylor.com

Reviewer: Charlie Elland

…about the singles  LITTLE SPECK OF BLUE and BOY BECAME A MAN from THE STARGAZER’S SYMPHONIUM
 LITTLE SPECK OF BLUE:
 “Marv’s music is most marvy. Crisply arranged, winsome and winning.” – Van Dyke Parks, Composer, lyricist, arranger, Brian Wilson collaborator
“”…a real musical curiosity…The lyrics are deliberately trippy and reality biting, while the whole package is instantly catchy” – Single of the week – Indie London
“Epic” – Tom Robinson BBC6 Introducing…
“This is a really classy song…Marvin B Naylor has taken us back to a time when music really meant something…a whopping opus… such sumptious music…the best 3 minutes 40 seconds of 2010″ – Elly Roberts – Allgigs
“…a touch of genius” – Shane Blanchard – Tasty
“I was immediately grabbed by the dreamy, almost psychedelic 12 string guitar… a charming, intelligent track and Marvins’ skills as both a lyricist and guitar player are demonstrated nicely” – Gobshout
“The shimmering guitars create a magical feel to the whole listening experience” – Alex Yau – Audio Scribbler
“Despite the instrumental simplicity and folk leanings, the track offers a huge amount of depth that veers from one influence to another and refuses to be pigeon-holed” – The Music Fix
“I feel I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and I’m in Wonderland…” – The Mag
“…he’s won me over with this charming psych-pop: all Beach Boys harmonies, plinky strings and sun-kissed vibes. A groovy cat indeed” – Sounds XP
“This is a lovely, life-affirming slice of pop music.” – Jonathan Coe, Author of What a Carve Up! and The Rotter’s Club

 

 

BOY BECAME A  MAN:

“This track sounds nothing short of amazing” – Shane Blanchard, Tasty Fanzine

“Fine bit of  12-string work there!” – Gideon Coe, BBC6

 

AWARDS:

BEAUTIFUL BALLOON (from THE LAST FLIGHT OF BILLY BALLOON) was awarded 1st Prize in the Music Innovation Category by Fatea Magazine in 2009.

Marvin B Naylor received the Gold Artist Award from Radio Gets Wild in 2010