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Mark Renner

Few Traces (RVNG)

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RELEASED: 16th February 2018
Double Vinyl LP

Few Traces surveys a near decade of Mark Renner’s scarcely released and unreleased material from 1982 to 1990, embracing and evoking the timelessness of his artistic statement: a wordless translation of the individual’s musical experience, met with the poetic expression of being here.

Mark Renner first encountered punk while a teenager in Upperco, a country town in rural Maryland. Growing up on his family farm, he became a young acolyte of the British exports hitting not-so-distant Baltimore record store shelves in 1979 / 1980 and was baited by an area musician-wanted ad declaring Ultravox a primary touchstone.

 This nascent band and a pair of other group experiments flamed out under the typical totem of despotism. In their ashes Renner began recording independently around 1983 with a portable four-track, electric guitar, and classic Casio CZ101 synthesizer. Aside from John Foxx-era Ultravox, Renner’s process was inspired by the period’s electronic pioneers venturing into deeper, romantic pop pastures: Yellow Magic Orchestra, Bill Nelson, The Associates.

 With his tools and teachers in place, the blueprints for Renner’s sound were laid out – metronomic, skeletal rhythms built on sturdy yet singular drum machines supporting luminescent guitar and synth lines, Renner’s reverent voice guiding the fables and construction.

Most directly influential, Renner’s enthusiasm for Days in Europa, the third album by Scottish new wave band Skids, would lead to a correspondence and long-distance tutorship with Stuart Adamson. Before Adamson would achieve worldwide success co-founding the group Big Country, a chance friendship with Renner would impart great confidence in the young musician from Maryland, who, after a visit in Edinburgh, would then travel to London to demo an early version of “Half A Heart” featured in its final form on Few Traces.

Compiled three decades after the music was originally put to tape, Few Traces collects Mark Renner’s early music but strives not to simplify or reframe it.

Tracklisting:

  1. Riverside
  2. Saints and Sages
  3. Few Traces
  4. Half A Heart
  5. Princes Street
  6. The Mirror At Saint Andrews
  7. The Wild House
  8. The Dyer’s Hand
  9. A Fountain In The Cloister
  10. James Cowie (The Portrait Group)
  11. Autumn Calls You By Name
  12. Ageless
  13. Jars of Clay
  14. More Or Less
  15. The Eternal Purpose
  16. The Sun In His Head, A Storm In His Heart
  17. The Man & The Echo
  18. As Big As Trees
  19. Yeats, and the Golden Dawn
  20. It Might Have Been
  21. Wounds