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So named because it collects the contents of three 7" singles released in 1998, along with a slew of otherwise unavailable tracks, Sevens makes for an agreeably fragile introduction to the band's particular sound. Or more accurately, the person's, given that Mark Tranmer is Gnac as much as Vini Reilly is the Durutti Column -- which actually makes for a perfectly apt comparison. There's definitely a certain something of Reilly's legendary delicacy and subtle beauty echoing throughout Sevens, further emphasized by its instrumental nature. Tranmer is no Reilly clone per se, but there's plenty of wistful atmosphere and haunting reverb regardless of whether a song is performed primarily on guitar or on piano. In that respect, he's also clearly taken with Martin Hannett's production style, though there's a touch more open warmth in the mix, not quite so crisp and punchy. There are also subtle hints of Disco Inferno's inspired subtleties and Piano Magic's equally compelling precision; anyone fond of those bands will likely find something to enjoy here. Of the previously available tracks, highlights include "The Broken Fall," a fine acoustic/electric guitar overdub, "Armchair Thriller," which does indeed almost sound like a sedate John Barry spy movie theme, vibes echoing into the distance, and "Ves 004." As for the unreleased tracks, several sound like developments or alternates of the actual singles, or at least tread similar ground. Standouts include "1958," which combines Tranmer's overall instrumental approach from guitar to synth strings and back into an enjoyably melancholy whole, and the sweet "Heliotrope." If there's an acid test, it's "A Tangle With...," the A-side to "The Broken Fall." Tranmer's acoustic guitar abilities and the combined feel of serenity and sadness is a wonder to behold. Best song title: "And Now It's So Much Colder."

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