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(47:55, Firepool Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dominion 5:15 2. Images 3:10 3. One Day 2:19 4. Harbinger 3:36 5. Lost One 3:24 6. Pain Map 7:25 7. Persona 3:16 8. Splendid Sisters 3:16 9. Tilting at Windmills 6:11 10. Accord 2:32 11. Dichotomy 3:33 12. Drama of Display 3:58 LINEUP: Mark Cook – Warr guitar, guitars, bass; keyboards Bill Bachman – drums With: Gayle Ellett (of Djam Karet) – vintage keyboards Dave Streett – Warr guitar Tony Rohrbough – guitar Michael Harris – guitar Joe Blair – guitar Jeff Plant – bass Bob Fisher – flute Shannon Wickline – piano
Prolusion. The US duo SPOKE OF SHADOWS was formed in 2013, consisting of world renowned drummer Bill Bachman and instrumentalist Mark Cook, the latter arguably best known for being a member of progressive rock band Herd Of Instinct. Spoke Of Shadow's self-titled debut album was released in 2014 through Djam Karet's label Firepool Records.
Analysis. Whenever something comes along that is connected to Djam Karet one way or the other I tend to be rather intrigued by the product in question, as I'll always be in for quite the ride one way or the other. There's something refreshing about experiencing music that transports you to landscapes rarely explored by others, and Spoke of Shadows fits well within such a description based on their debut album. Eclectic is probably a word that describes the contents of this production fairly well, and otherwise one should note that this is an instrumental venture too. The main associations I got when listening to this CD was that of a certain Robert Fripp, and then first and foremost the guitar sounds I recall from King Crimson's ‘80s albums in general and "Three of a Perfect Pair" in particular. Subtly chaotic layered plucked guitars, dreamladen gliding guitar textures and sharper, subtly dissonant unnerving floating guitar motifs come and go throughout this album, more often than not in alternating passages, and on occasion, they are all placed on top of each other. Dark, organic and smooth bass lines are also a central part of the mix, and those who love and enjoy the Mellotron will be pleased about the liberal use of textures from that instrument throughout as well. The flute is used to add a gentler touch to the proceedings, so while many of the compositions do sound like something King Crimson or Trey Gunn might have had a hand in, up to and including unnerving moods and lapses into darker, harder and more oppressive nightmarish landscapes, there's also room for passages of a more gentle nature, with good, old Camel as the band name that comes to mind. Some orchestral keyboard arrangements find their way into the mix on occasion too, and in a couple of tracks I was strongly reminded about Kate Bush when those details appeared. I'll readily admit that I suspect that association is an accidental rather than planned one though, and as those are fairly minute details as well, they don't define this production in any way. The latter can most likely be applied to the two pieces that appear to have a more distinct jazz orientation on some levels, namely One Day and Splendid Sisters. They provide variation and explore the instruments used in a subtly different manner, but don't define this production as such.
Conclusion. Complex, sophisticated progressive rock is the name of the game here, and as always from a product issued by Firepool Records, the mix and production are impeccable. Audiophiles can take note of this one straight away, those who prefer to buy high-quality items in terms of sound, mix and production should get this one playing on their high-end audio systems. Otherwise I'd suggest that fans of ‘80s King Crimson, Trey Gunn's various side projects and Djam Karet should take note of this album, as I'd hazard a guess that the greater majority of them will find this disc to be a rewarding and interesting experience.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 15, 2015
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