Martin Grech is one of many enigmatic underground artists that does not recieve enough exposure. I first fell in love with Grech's music way back in 2006 when he was featured on Yourcodenameis:milo's collaborative mixtape Print Is Dead. Since listening to that track a long term love affair started between me and his music. Martin's career actually started quite a while before this and saw him attaining relative critical acclaim and quite a lot of media exposure thanks to his track "Open Heart Zoo" appearing on a Lexus advert. The impressive thing about this track was not just it's unique eerie falsetto but the fact that it was written by Martin whilst he was still in his mid teens. Martin's first album of the same name also was produced and released before he'd even reached twenty and cemented his reputation as a truly inspirational young talent.
Open Heart Zoo was a beautifully realised album from start to finish mixing a vast range of different styles and still is one of my all time favourite records. The albums sound was very experimental with some tracks featuring ambient piano segments and saxophones whereas others were filled to the brim with industrial beats and scratchy unhinged guitars. Whilst the subject matter throughout remained bleak and quite depressing areas of the album were upbeat and even poppy. Martin's unique vocal stylings that sometimes went into supersonic high pitched falsetto where compared by many to Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley two singers held in universal high regard. From every perspective then Open Heart Zoo appeared to be the start of a promising career indeed.
In 2005 Martin Grech returned with his crowning achievement sophomore album Unholy. Whilst the more morbid tones of Open Heart Zoo were counter balanced by often upbeat backing music Unholy boldly saw Martin reinvent himself into a purveyor of all things dark. Where there were once sparse and delicate keys were horrendous sounding guitars and violent orchestral stabs. Whilst this shift left many complacent about his complete overhaul of his sound the album remains a powerful testament to his ability to continue to evolve. The albums main highlight for me is the brooding epic "Holy Father Inferior" a 9 minute long masterpiece that slowly layers tension and anxiety before exploding with a truly haunting blood curdling falsetto. Martin also branched out with his experimental nature and even explored industrial metal elements throughout the album proving once again his versatility.
Following Unholy Martin split from his record label Island. Whilst Martin's fanbase grew the music industry was on very uncertain ground in the late noughties and Grech's cult success made him a prime candidate for going independent. March Of The Lonely was Martin's next album, released in 2007 it saw Martin once again define convention and all of his critics attempts to pigeonhole his work. March Of The Lonely was a much more serene album than either of its two predecessors. The album saw Grech strip back to the barest bones the majority of material being acoustic and only very subtle tweaks were made to make a more organic and simple album. This again left some in uproar as the heavy dark elements were totally abscent although anyone with any interest in his career should have expected a curve ball at this juncture. The album again was mostly seen as a great success and yet another testament to Grech's almost limitless versatility.
After this period of time is where the veil of ambiguity and mystery began to arise. Following March Of The Lonely Martin tried to set up a new project under the working title Meatsuit, the idea was to recruit other artists to form this band. In the mean time Martin also created an original score for the film Blood River, a score that as of yet seems as though it will not be released. During this transitional period Grech worked tirelessly on demos for Meatsuit tracks with regular updates to his Myspace. With the gradual demise of Myspace in favour of the new social networking hit Facebook the updates stopped and Martin disappeared. Updates were few and far between until more recently when an official facebook page surfaced with a few short mysterious trailers of new material under the working title Shadow Secrets. This was later changed to The Watcher.
Whilst further details are still eagerly awaited by his fanbase Grech recently released Meta part 1 and 2. Meta is a collection of all the music Martin put together in his transitional stage between his albums and each part is made up of roughly 25 tracks. Clearly the quiet period of inactivity was not quiet at all. Both of these releases were available for download part 1 through facebook and part 2 through Martin's bandcamp. Both part 1 and 2 of Meta whilst made up of demos again highlight Martins experimental nature from the metallic Meshuggah like qualities of his Meatsuit project to the serene and poignant experiments with electronica that echo of Thom Yorke's solo work. Both are highly recommended the only reason they weren't reviewed properly on here at the times of release was the sheer magnitude of material and Martin Grech himself adamantly proclaiming these are only to be viewed as sketches of songs.
Whilst the release of The Watcher still has not been announced and the tracklisting and even musical direction remains a mystery one thing is certain, Martin Grech is definitely an artist to keep your eyes on. It is quite unlikely at this stage that The Watcher will see the light of day this year but I'd estimate a release next year is quite a high possibility.
Martin Grech's Facebook:
Martin Grech's Bandcamp: