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(35:53; Roth Handle Recordings)
TRACK LIST: 1. Poppy Seeds Intro 0:59 2. Poppy Seeds 2:05 3. Chamber 3:36 4. #1 10:38 5. Tower Mews 2:01 6. Today 1:24 7. Poppies in a Field 12:34 8. The Last Bridge Organ 2:36 LINEUP : Tom Doncourt - synthesizers, keyboards, organ, piano Mattias Olsson - drums, percussion, guitars, piano, turntables, voices, effects with: Hampus Nordgren-Hemlin - bass, guitars, sitar, keyboards Akaba - vocals Stina Hellberg Agback - harp Hanna Ekstrom - violin, viola Anna Dager - cello
Prolusion. Tom Doncourt and Mattias Olsson's Cathedral feature the last material the late Tom Doncourt created alongside long time collaborator Mattias Olsson, and given the name of this album it is obvious to assume that this was their joint effort to create material honoring the legacy of Doncourt's old band Cathedral. Doncourt passed away in 2019, and a year or so later the album he and Olsson had crafted together was released through Olsson's label Roth Handle Recordings.
Analysis. The sound of Cathedral as envisioned by Doncourt and Olsson is a particular one and a peculiar one. While I can't really say too much about how it follows the tradition of Cathedral's back catalogue in terms of neither sound, atmosphere, style or approach, it is a production that strikes me as oddly contemporary in sum, but with multiple parts and details that reference several time periods, styles and approaches to music. In progressive rock terms I guess eclectic is as good an indicator as anything else. Those fond of symphonic progressive rock will get plenty of parts that they will enjoy, with liberal use of Mellotron throughout and a fair amount of passages with layered tangent instruments of different kinds being dominant with both majestic and monumental arrangements with half a foot or more inside this tradition. We are also treated to several more careful, atmospheric laden creations using many of the same elements, and while probably also symphonic oriented they do have more of a cinematic and tender feel to them, with the general sound and atmosphere at timers being strikingly similar to the material underground 17 Pygmies explored on their last handful or so of albums. A description that in this case probably serves more as a recommendation for those who enjoy Doncourt and Olsson's creations of this type to seek out the band name-dropped rather than the other way around. Another striking aspect of this CD is how instruments are used as textures, frequently giving this production something of a post-rock oriented sound and atmosphere. Some of the more intense and energetic, vibrant sections features what sounds like distinct references to this more contemporary manner of crafting arrangements, even if this may we be an accidental feature. I also note that quite a few passages have an intense, almost foreboding and doom-laden frantic vibe to them, and as one of the creators did in fact pass away before this album was finalized it is tempting to draw some conclusion from that. The sacral manner in which this album opens and the distinct trajectory and instruments used for the conclusion are also details that invites to both associations and conclusions. Other than that I note that percussion details and drums are central and critical elements throughout, as one would expect when Mattias Olsson is involved, and his contributions in the rhythm department alone certainly elevates the end user experience. But in terms of more subtle details added here and there to the more intense and expressive rhythm work he provides. A consistently strong production throughout, with the epic length composition "#1" as the brilliant standout track as far as I'm concerned.
Conclusion. Those who are fond of contemporary, creative and expressive progressive rock made with an eclectic orientation that includes cinematic sections, classic era symphonic progressive rock and post-rock among several styles used or with elements featured throughout should enjoy this album by Doncourt and Olsson immensely. A strong, solid and perhaps somewhat dark creation. A suitably haunting finale for Doncourt as a creator of music it is too of course, but first and foremost a high quality example of what I'd describe as contemporary, eclectic progressive rock.
Progmessor: December 2020
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