If H.G.Wells and Jules Verne could be said to be the Godfathers of steampunk, then surely the name of Paul Roland deserves to be included in the same illustrious company.
This quintessentially English cult indie recording artist and author who has recorded more than 15 albums since his debut ‘The Werewolf of London’ in 1980, has been called ‘the male Kate Bush’ by one-time label mate Robyn Hitchcock, ‘The Lord Byron of Rock’ by influential French music magazine ‘Les Inrockuptibles’ and ‘The Edgar Allen Poe of Psychpop’ by other periodicals as far afield as Germany, Greece, France, Italy, the US and Japan. Roland himself is far too modest to make such claims and perhaps that is why it has taken 30 years for his music to filter through to his natural audience and for him to finally be recognised as a seminal influence on today’s steampunk bands and stylists.
Roland’s pair of 1987 acoustic mini albums, ‘Happy Families’ (a wryly comic collection of songs based on the lives of real Edwardian eccentrics) and the aptly titled ‘A Cabinet of Curiosities’ (featuring songs concerning an Edwardian inventor and his flying machine, an avid collector of demons and a unique string quartet and harpsichord arrangement of ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’!!) were acclaimed at the time of their original release. The problem was he was the master of a genre which had yet to be invented!
A few quotes …
“Genius at play! If Shakespeare, Poe and Conan Doyle were alive today, they would surely have some Roland in their record collections. Unfortunately they’re dead… what’s your excuse?”
Bucketful of Brains
“Psych-pop genius…full of gruesome atmosphere…These recordings delineate a mastery of character all perfectly described in sound.”
Ian Abrahams ‘Record Collector’ March 2010
“Paul Roland has remained a cherished figure on the gothic rock and psychpop periphery for 30 years…a treasury of detail and eloquence…Roland’s impeccable narratives (and) formal, baroque instrumentation…creates the antiquated yet timeless ambience his songs deserve”.
Marco Rossi ‘Record Collector’ May 2010
“Gothic-psych-baroque-rocker waxing demented in a way only an Englishman can…impeccable.”
“Roland’s gaslight world is one of quaint but dark English folklore, sinister Victoriana and bittersweet stories…File under whimsy?”
“Roland is a maestro of melancholy and madness… ornate gothic/baroque songwriting and quintessentially English pop-psych dementia…princely stuff.”
“If pop music had existed in the 19th century Roland would have been a star.”