Robin Kelly's first album released to critical aclaim in 1997.
"Interesting. Weird. Haunting. Specifically, I'm not sure how to describe this one! I haven't heard much like it, so it's hard to compare. I could compare Robin Kelly to himself, but where would that get us?
"I love Robin's voice. It's rather a counter-tenor, much like 2 people: and I can't remember either of their names. Great review, huh? One's a big black guy with a high voice. The other's the lead singer in a popular 80s band, with a high, odd voice. But RK has a clean sound, soft stuff that's great in headphones. For instance, 'Black Ice' is a good traveling song with simple acoustic guitar and bass in the foreground, and a jazzy electric guitar way in the back putting on a show.
"The song that sticks with me most is 'Sarsen Stone'. Possibly because it is one of the Strangest sounding things I've heard yet. I don't mean it's experimental. But just the sound of the high sleepy voice along with that mandolin which creeps underneath. Spooky. World music right out of New Zealand. If this is the norm for NZ, I wanna go.
While 'Crying Shame' is much like the black/blueness of the 80s sound I almost mentioned above. Listen to this at 1 am or after. It is essential you do this to soak in all of the mystery and creepiness that invigorates this unknown classic. Well, classic might be strong, but it's a song that will stick to your shadow.
I'm still not sure what genre to say, unless 80s-pop-folk. But that's not really right. I'm afraid this is 1 occasion where you can't take my words for it, you've just got to listen to Robin, who is Well worth the trial. Good acoustic performances. A strangely rich darkness that amazingly Never makes you depressed. How is this possible? How can he get AWAY with it?? I don't know." Reviewed by Ben Ohmart The Muses Muse 5/21/97
In Robin's words:
Black Ice was my first album, and was written during a time of great change for me. It was recorded in a dark basement studio, and although I have never viewed the subject matter as depressing, a certain dark atmosphere is reflected in most of the songs. The producer and engineer was the multi-talented Eamon O'Kane.
The first song I recorded was 'They Gave You His Name', based on the life story of a war veteran I was looking after in the hospice. Listening to the finished version ranks as one of my all time 'peak' experiences.
Firstly the title track, Black Ice, which was the last song recorded for the album. Over the 18 months we recorded Black Ice, digital recording techniques had improved remarkably, and I felt this clean punchy 'sound' kicked the album off well. My good friend, and Nelson doctor Tim Ewer, provides the raunchy Fender guitar.
'Sarsen Stone,' based on the building of Stonehenge. Nobody knows for sure just how the massive upright 'Sarsen' stones were carried from their source thirty miles away. It is estimated over a thousand men would have been needed to carry each stone, and their arduous journey would have taken many years. Was this an act of faith or obedience?
There are even more elaborate theories. Did ancient civilisations discover and utilise powers of levitation, and were these advanced techniques employed in building such structures as Stonehenge, the Mayan temples and the pyramids at Giza?
The mandolin on 'Sarsen Stone' was played by the late Peter Collier.