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(47:52; Boudicca Records)
The picture may look as if this is a standard looking release, but here the CD is at the rear of a 48-page full-colour A5 landscape glossy book which provides us with the lyrics, numerous photos, and an insight of what makes this art/prog/folk/rock collective really tick. What we have here is a continuation of the 'Krystal Svava' mythos they started in their EP ‘Death & The Maiden’. It is somewhat based an old dying ex- army musician and his housekeeper cum part time sex worker they knew, mixed with that of a new friend, David, also an old soldier and ex-musician living in Scotland. The band are based around Erin Bennett (lead vocals, guitar, trumpet), and comprise Kitty Biscuits (backing vocals, percussion, spoken word poetry), Anna Fraser (drums, percussion), Bad Dog (bass), Susan Dasi (backing vocals, synths), and Nikki Francis (Hammond, piano, synths, saxophone, flute, clarinet). Yes, we have a band which are nearly all-female, which is unusual in any style of music but certainly rare within anything remotely thought of as prog where women are generally allowed to be lead singers but rarely anything else (yes, I am fully aware of bands like Eternal Wanderers, but there are very few like that). The album commences with the sound of an orchestra warming up and getting ready for the performance and is quite unlike the rest of the material, but somehow it is also quite fitting in that it allows us to know that whatever comes next will be unexpected, and that is certainly the case throughout. It is a heavily layered and arranged album, and one never knows what to expect, and by concentrating on different musicians it is possible to clearly understand just how much impact each of the players is having on the rest of the band. Erin can really crunch when she wants to, sing sweetly or with real power, while behind her Anna is never content to sit within any particular pattern or style, moving all over the kit when the time is right, keeping it restrained at others. Bassist Bad Dog is in many ways the cornerstone as he can keep it simple or provide great complexity, moving right up the neck for counterpoint melodies, linking with both Anna and Erin which then allows the others to add their own layers. At times we have piano which is simply beautiful and delicate, at others swathes of keyboards and orchestration, while various woodwind and brass instruments come in when the time is right. There are times when they are quite Floydian, others more direct, and yet others where folk is an important aspect with a feeling that Mostly Autumn have also been an influence, yet it also feels somewhat deeper, stronger, with a real connection. This really is a wonderful release, and it is great that the physical version really does justice to the music contained within. Well worth discovering.
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