And Last But Not Least album review column
Grant Moon has a rummage down the back of the Prog sofa for the ones that nearly got away...
Bristol-based James McKeown was in the Prog-endorsed Hi Fiction Science, and now he’s making music solo under the name Hawksmoor (self-released). The album is billed as “a hauntological imaginary soundtrack [exploring] the mysterious cartographic connections between the six Hawksmoor churches in London”. Lofty and arcane, this subject matter’s brought to electronic life with Moogs, tape loops, sparse choral vox and guitar, making for an atmospheric sprawl of ideas utterly evocative of its theme.
The Omnific are a young trio from Melbourne making a pleasing math rock/djenty din. They are drummer Jerome Lematua and – count ’em – two bassists, Matthew Fackrell and Tobey Peterson-Stewart. New EP Kismet is funky, melodic and virtuosic, with keys and effects adding depth, but as is often the case in this genre there’s a sense that the compositions are dictated by the players’ technique rather than the other, more artistic, way round.
Mew, Nik Kershaw and Scritti Politti all crossed my mind when listening to Hello Moth’s convincing, self-released three-track EP, Nebula Songs. This one-man band from Calgary, Alberta has had success in Canada, and the sumptuous synth harmonies here show off his assured producer nous. It’s sweet, catchy and just unsettlingly inventive enough to make it into our arena. But we’ll deduct a few points for Mr Moth not revealing his real name. That’s just silly...
Formed 13 years ago, Russian band Kauan are based in Ukraine and sing in Finnish. The lyrics on their tender, dramatic release Kaiho (kauanmusik) were written by Finnish folk singer Marja Mattlar and are delivered gently and meaningfully by founder Anton Belov. The band’s icy atmospherics – reverberating synths, echoing pianos, ethereal female voice and guitars – cool the parts that Anathema also reach, and if Kaiho is a softer addition to the band’s canon, it’s a worthy gateway to their soundworld.
It’s easy to see what once led Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys to produce Lancaster duo The Lovely Eggs. They’re edgy and leftfield, and dial up the space and punk rock on their current LP, This Is Eggland (Egg Records). Produced by Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips), it’s a hard and invigorating celebration of being an outsider. (That's all of us, isn't it?)
But my pick of the crop this month is Not A Drawing, the third, self-released offering from New York’s pop psychonaut Daniel Carlson. Cloudy People is the wonderful lysergic opener, lolloping slowly on like Jeff Lynne on diazepam. Those solid shapes just beyond the dreamy, acidic haze could be Ben Folds or Grandaddy, even World Party, but the circa- ’67 psych is enhanced by some luscious, proggy chord voicings and changes (I See You There, Just Like Nothing). Famed producer Michael Leonhart suggested Carlson make it “less Paul McCartney, more Pink Floyd”. He sort of achieves both on this lovely, listenable album.