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(60:46, Regal Worm)
TRACK LIST: 1. Zinc Ferment 1:32 2. Cherish That Rubber Rodent 3:59 3. The Mardi Gras Turned Ugly in Seconds 4:30 4. Apple Witch 4:05 5. Morning Sentinel 2:31 6. Confession from a Deep and Warm Hibernaculum 13:17 7. Mud 1:24 8. The Aunt Turns Into an Ant 26:11 9. Klara Till Slutet 3:17 LINEUP: Jarrod Gosling keyboards; bass, guitars; drums; whistles; vocals With: Mick Somerset-Ward saxophones, clarinet, flutes, harp; vocals Louis Atkinson saxophones Lucy Fawcett trumpet Nick Gosling guitars Jack Helliwell violin Graham McElearney harp Richard Bradley Synthi AKS Peter Rophone vocals Kevin Pearce vocals Lucy Hope vocals
Prolusion. The UK band REGAL WORM is, first and foremost, the creative vehicle of composer and musician Jared Gosling, otherwise known as a member of the bands Skywatchers, I Monster and Henry Fool. "Use and Ornament" is the first album to be issued under the Regal Worm moniker; it was self released towards the end of 2013.
Analysis. Being a reviewer is a task that often makes you tired of music. The magical experiences can be few and far between, and sometimes you feel like you've lost the capability to be enchanted by music anymore, that nothing will ever be as good as some of the albums that have really impressed you in the past. Then a band like Regal Worm comes along, reigniting the magic and the passion of music, firmly documenting that there are still artists out there that can surprise, investigate new territories and create demanding, challenging music that is easygoing, complex, quirky and compelling all at the same time. This is an artist who knows his 70s progressive rock to a T, and is probably far more knowledgeable about all aspects of this classic decade than I'll ever be. Vintage keyboards, Mellotron included, are used in liberal amounts throughout, and to describe this production as a literal smorgasbord for keyboard lovers is, if anything, an understatement. When that has been said, this isn't a symphonic progressive rock production however, even if there is a distinct footprint from that type of music throughout. That there are plenty of pastoral interludes and folk-tinged intermissions and details isn't that surprising in this context, and that most compositions feature at least one interlude or sequence that includes details from (or is oriented towards) jazz and jazz rock isn't all that surprising either. That many of these creations also feature cosmic flavored details and psychedelic tendencies does expand the canvas somewhat though, and that dissonant effects and challenging chaotic noisescapes have their place within this context even more so. I must add for this latter aspect that this is always done in a compelling manner, and even when not merely used as a supporting effect, this is done in a way that will most likely sound appealing also to thosewho normally wouldn't enjoy material of that kind. That this is a production that also features a liberal amount of contemporary-sounding instrumental details and electronics amidst all the vintage sounding arrangements and lead motifs is also a detail that merits a mention. While there is a retro-oriented vibe about this CD, it isn't a retro-oriented production as such, but rather one that appears to seek to blend the past with the present as far as sound, mood and atmosphere are concerned. I should probably also mention that you'll encounter some Canterbury inspired elements from time to time, presumably rather expected from anyone reading at this point.
Conclusion. "Use and Ornament" is a highly impressive debut album from an experienced composer and musician, exploring new territories with a new project. One that main man Gosling appears to focus on quite a bit, as a second album has been recorded and released at the time of writing. But if you haven't come across this band so far they are quite clearly one that merits an inspection. One of the most impressive debut albums I have heard in the last few years, and one that manages to combine the old with the new and to include challenging features in compelling and easygoing compositions with an ease that is down right impressive. Highly recommended, obviously.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 16, 2014
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