Post Office: The Marylebone Greenwave
Minority Records

No less than seventeen musicians are listed as members of Post Office, a multi-limbed collective spearheaded by keyboardist Eddie Stevens and percussionist Dan Darriba, who also composed and produced the outfit's fifty-six-minute debut album. Though the title refers to a London myth whereby taxi drivers attempt to drive through King's Cross to the Marylebone flyover without hitting any red lights, the work as a whole is a concept album dedicated to the life cycle, all the way from the first breath taken to the moment of expiration. Contributing to the Post Office sound are (deep breath now) guitarist Dedi Madden, drummer Dave de Rose, vocalists Sia Furler and Sara Underwood, soprano saxist Tom Chant, trombonists Barnaby Dickenson and Trevor Mires, French horn players Clare Moss and Dave Lee, trumpeters and flugelhorn players Neil Yates, Martin Shaw, Guy Barker and Graeme Flowers, and Catgut on strings.

In keeping with the life cycle theme, the album breaks into three sections, the first of which deals with the period from birth to puberty, the second adulthood with all its humbling reality-checks, and the third life's twilight. In like manner, the musical presentation changes as it advances through the seven compositions, referencing along the way everything from acid jazz and IDM to ambient and neo-classical. Solidifying the connection between the programmatic content and the individual tracks, text passages for the individual pieces are included in the release's inner booklet to complement the album's largely instrumental content.

At the outset, “Dawn at Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube” soothes the listener with delicate, woodland murmurs of keyboards, woodwinds, and strings, the music entrancing until it explodes at the six-minute mark to suggest tumult in the new arrival's life. The rebellious period of adolescence is soundly evoked by “Ascent of the Young,” a raucous, take-no-prisoners plunge into acid jazz, noise rock, and Aphex-styled madness that Chant and Madden roar through with abandon. Even at this early stage of the album, Post Office's penchant for dynamic extremes has been rendered powerfully, even painfully (in the second track) evident. The comparatively restrained meditation “Tiny Overnight” allows for a brief, tablas-sprinkled interlude by which to catch one's bearings before the Latin-tinged “Pin Out My Eyes” takes over. Timbales, congas, and piano figure prominently during the first part of this episodic track, which gradually morphs into an oddball fusion of ‘60s lounge pop, horn-drenched R&B, and twitchy electronica with a sultry vocal by Furler leading the charge.

Madden then struts his own vocal chops on the big band-styled “Rust,” after which “Mr. Trebus” arrives, a stylistically wide-ranging, fourteen-minute opus featuring vocals by Underwood that was inspired by the true story of a man who fought for the right to horde junk in his house. Bringing things full circle, the Proustian-titled “Time Regained” closes the album on a relatively serene and even triumphant note. Robust and vibrant, the album is, as mentioned, a sometimes uproarious collection that dynamically doesn't shy away from extremes. One presumes that, in the eyes of Stevens and Darriba, such would also be the definition of a life well-lived.

November 2015