Muscian Danny Roger in delamere Forest. Pormotional Shots for hi

Photograph by Adam Lee

The Cold Explodes

“I’m sending all the ships to sea, in the hope they’ll fail.”

There’s a darkness at the heart of The Cold Explodes self titled album, the debut solo work by multi-instrumentalist Manilarajj.

It’s a work that summons the spirits of the heartbroken classics; of the wonder of Nick Drake’s lonely beauty, the acoustic beats and world weariness of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, of Talk Talk’s final two bucolic masterpieces and the nature soaked balladry of Bill Fay.

“Send The Ships is about unresolved situations; my trying to put right part of what I didn’t want to rectify, taking extreme lengths to resolve situations that were supposed to lay unresolved,” says the man who has appeared both live and on record with Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band, toured the world as guitarist of choice for the multi-million selling Sami Yusuf. “The entire album is shrouded in an isolation that takes you beyond Loneliness. I remember I was in a terrible place and these songs are the result of that darkness.”

For an exceptionally talented guitarist, there is so little guitar on this orchestral sounding album; “For me, piano has become a more versatile writing tool than guitar could ever be. Piano enables me to lose myself and become wrapped up in a world of subconscious.” Citing varied influences, Rachmaninov and Chopin to Four Tet and Queens of the Stone Age via Radiohead and Richard Hawley, that world of subconscious brings beauty such as the dreamtime fairytale waltz of Violet Springs.

“That’s one of the most beautifully isolating songs for me, the topic of many debates as it unfolded before my eyes. I feel like I had very little to do with it and the question is ‘was it my subconscious talking or something else? Something lurking externally, choosing its moment?’”

In the darkness and isolation lies hope, though. Hope and reassurance. The hope that comes with a total belief in the magic in music, an immersion in the moment. The reassurance of a work of chilled, haunting beauty that will tell you that, “You’re safe at a distance, you’re safe where you are.”

The last words go, as they always should, to the artist himself, to Manilarajj:
“The world is, at times, incredibly dark but this album, for me, goes beyond any fear.”

                                                                                                                                        Ian Salmon