Show them your face
Be born and be blessed
At the edge of dreams
This is not a placid walk with undamaged flesh
Ulysse Marshall, hailing from the serene terrains of Lausanne, Switzerland, stands as a notable independent songwriter. His inspirations span a diverse spectrum, from the likes of Joy Division and Bauhaus to the evocative allure of Nick Cave. The 1980s, with its blend of post-punk and electronic subtleties, holds a particular charm for him, an era he regards with profound admiration. Born in Uruguay, Marshall made Europe his home at the tender age of eight, accompanying his family. Beyond his songwriting, he has etched his mark as a published poet and author. The depth of his influences is evident, drawing from icons such as Siouxsie & The Banshees and the aforementioned 1980s ambiance.
In low-voiced crooner mode, Ulysse Marshall evokes the 80s offerings to enchantment and loss of Leonard Cohen and Depeche Mode. His songs are about ghost dragons from childhood, intense love stories, and death. The music, an original guitar-and-synth blend of melancholic pop, darkwave, and electro, fits in hauntingly with the poetic lyrics.
The album commences with the poignant track, Jerry, accompanied by a masterfully crafted video under the directorial eye of Emmanuel Linel, featuring the talents of Lucas Moreno and Danilo Lomazzi. Jerry, a character portrayed in weathered clothing, seemingly aged beyond his years, resides in a dimly lit basement alongside his perpetually bickering sister. While the comfort of unfamiliar faces offers respite for many, acquaintances like Jerry unveil life’s more somber corners. This recurrent chorus underscores the ambivalence of yearning for someone in both life and beyond.
Watch the video for “Jeyy” below:
Life Is For Free conveys profound grief and reminiscence. A traumatic event, likely a car accident, separates the narrator from a cherished individual. Vivid imagery describes nature and poignant interactions, juxtaposing life’s fleeting nature with the enduring pain of loss. The repeated refrain underscores the inevitability of life’s transience and the enduring memory of the departed.
This is followed by the poignant A New Smell, which delves into a profound sense of longing and reflection. Despite efforts and expressions of devotion, there’s an unchanging perception or presence that haunts the narrator. The journey, represented by a perilous road, reveals a fight against external pressures, symbolized as vultures threatening a cherished memory. The recurring fragrance suggests an enduring memory or presence, emphasizing the pain of being unable to move forward.
1979 expresses nostalgia for a past time and a lost relationship, vividly capturing the essence of a specific era through cultural references and personal memories. The repetition of remembering highlights the narrator’s longing to hold on to the past and the moments shared. The ‘smile etched in red’ symbolizes the permanence of those memories, while the recurring phrase “the story goes on” emphasizes that those moments continue to live on in the narrator’s mind.
Next we are taken to Wolves & Pigs, which reflects the frailties and susceptibilities of humans, drawing parallels with the fairytale where houses are easily blown down. The duality of wanting protection and seeking excitement or change indicates internal conflicts. It addresses both the desire for connection and the recognition of inherent human flaws and behaviours, hinting at both self-awareness and resignation to one’s nature.
In Christmas Talk, we feel the tension between personal identity and societal norms, highlighting the unexpected dominance of a young woman juxtaposed against aged behaviours. Imagery of pale orchids and lone birds emphasizes ideals and isolation, while references to societal conformity hint at the conflict between genuine self-expression and external pressures.
The album closes with the gentle Not A Placid Walk, which expresses the fluidity and complexity of identity, contrasting the traditional roles of gender and expectations. The imagery of a boy as a city, and the juxtaposition of a woman and man, emphasizes these ambiguities. The repeated refrain urges vulnerability and authenticity, suggesting life’s experiences are often marked by challenges and not merely a “placid walk with undamaged flesh.”
Listen to “Ghost Dragons: below:
After being a bass and guitar player for several bands including Lifesize and Kalaïn Orchestra, Ulysse Marshall now focuses on songwriting and performing. He is the founder and proud member of The Collective. a group of independent post-punk, synth-pop, and darkwave songwriters who support each other through creating, collaborating, and promoting.
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