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(48:08, Kentish Spires)
TRACK LIST: 1. Kingdom of Kent 11:11 2. Sprit of the Skies 4:20 3. TTWIG 3:45 4. Introception 7:10 5. Hengist Ridge 4:35 6. Clarity 3:59 7. The Last Harvest 13:08 LINEUP: Lucie V - vocals, violin Danny Chang - guitars, percussion, keyboards, vocals Paul Hornsby - saxophones, clarinet, flute, recorder Rik Loveridge - keyboards, guitars Phil Warren - bass Tim Robinson - drums with: Helen Williams - vocals
Prolusion. UK band KENTISH SPIRES appears to be a fairly recent formation, at least as far as being visible as an entity to outsiders is concerned, as their internet presence wasn't a fact until the spring of 2018. I do suspect this venture has been developed a bit longer than that, however, but remained more or less undercover until they had their debut album ready. That album is called "The Last Harvest", and was self-released in the summer of 2018.
Analysis. One of the more mysterious sub-genres of the progressive rock universe is what is commonly referred to as The Canterbury Scene. Mysterious, at least in the eyes and the ears of people not insiders to the genre. This variation of progressive rock have had it's solid base of admirers ever since the scene came to be in the early 70's, and Kentish Spires are vocal and up front about their aim of exploring this particular subset of progressive rock. And they do come across as quite a vital band of this tradition at their best on their debut album. In fact, they open this CD with what for me comes across as their very best song, even if it is a creation that for me also features some of their not quite as impressive details too. The latter aspect the one item of progressive rock that often is the highlight: Namely the instrumental interludes and the instrument solo spots. Not that Kentish Spires is a let down in that department, but much more of a case of these being not quite as impressive as the verse, chorus and bridge sections. It is when vocalist Lucie V. is present that I find this band to be shining at their very brightest. She has a fine voice, calm and controlled but able to deliver more dramatic and emotional modes of vocals when called upon, but it is the manner in which her vocals are supported that for me combined into a creation of greater beauty. The elegant flute details, taking their cues from both Jethro Tull and Camel. The elegant saxophone flavoring, adding flow and momentum with careful grace. The bass and drums, both of which tends to hone in on a jazz-oriented mode of delivery. The guitar, more of a subservient presence most of the time, alternating between jazzier and more of a rock tinged approach, depending on need. The epic length opening song 'Kingdom of Kent' assembles all of those details into a greater whole, with the verse and chorus parts clear highlights as far as I'm concerned. One of those rare instances where I was anxiously awaiting the instrumental parts to be finished so that I could get back to the striking beauty of the vocal parts. The latter, of course, being just bloody brilliant in my view. As the rest of this album unfolds we are treated to many variations of this band's take on the Canterbury sound, and most of them are just utterly charming. The shorter cuts tends to focus in a bit more on the more jazz-tinged aspects of the style, while the longer compositions adds in some additional flavoring. For opening song 'Kingdoms of Kent', there are trace elements of Pink Floyd present. 'Introception' adds some classic rock and, arguably, some southern rock details to the mix. And the darker toned, slower paced concluding epic 'The Last Harvest" made me think of Procol Harum in places. Not everything gels to the point of coming across as a striking production overall, but this is a production with tons of charm throughout and with quite a few moments of sheer brilliance. A very good and promising debut album by a band that should have a field day among fans of the particular brand of progressive rock they have chosen as their field of operations.
Conclusion. Kentish Spires is one of those bands that come out of nowhere and makes a strong and favorable impression among just about everyone with a fascination for the type of music they explore. Progressive rock with concise nods towards and inclusion of folk music details and jazz is the name of the game here, a type of music otherwise referred to as Canterbury. If you tend to enjoy such productions, this is a CD you do need to check out at some point, and then sooner rather than later.
Progmessor: July 29th 2018
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