Record review: RM Hubbert – Breaks & Bone [Chemikal Underground]

CHEM200-CoverJust a few months since RM Hubbert deservedly came home with a new toy for the mantelpiece courtesy of the Scottish Album of the Year awards, comes his third album in almost as many years.

Breaks & Bone, jokingly referred to as the last in Hubby’s ampersand trilogy (after 2010’s First & Last and last year’s aforementioned award-winner, Thirteen Lost & Found) follows the old school rule of thematic trilogies; the last instalment must always reference the first while offering something new.

As a result, the majority of Breaks… steps back from the lush, collaborative nature of Thirteen Lost & Found and plunges deeper into First & Last’s minimalistic, percussive approach, often echoing its melodic turns and bittersweet ambience.

However, this time Hubby takes the mic into his own hands, offering an added dimension to the emotional weight of his musical storytelling.

Making his welcome vocal debut on second track, ‘Bolt’, the rest of the album flits between instrumental set pieces and hushed narratives, with flashes of guitar and electronic textures colouring the gaps in between.

There was always the risk that adding vocals to Hubbert’s formula would ruin some of the mystique and interpretive power of his work but once you get used to hearing the man bare his soul in a much more literal fashion, it becomes clear that this is an obvious good fit, especially judging by pieces such as the stirring ‘Feedback Loops’ and the album’s haunting closer, ‘Slights’.

It’s a reflective record that will captivate anyone already on Hubbert’s team and hopefully add a few others to the squad.

Words: RJ Stark

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