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(50:39, Gentle Art of Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Prince of Wands 6:05 2. Heavy 3:49 3. Evening Drag 6:19 4. How Do You Peel 6:17 5. Where Do You Hide 3:19 6. Workers Hymn 4:15 7. The Illusionist 4:38 8. A Bird in Flight 3:21 9. I Put a Spell on You 6:30 10. Floating Castles 6:07 LINEUP: Aaron Brooks – vocals; guitars; keyboards Rick Phillips – guitars; vocals Joe Kidd – drums; vocals Spider Monkey – bass
Prolusion. The US quartet SIMEON SOUL CHARGER was formed in 2008, and following two initial self-released EPs the band signed with the German label Gentle Art of Music, which has released all the studio albums of this band to date. "A Trick of Light" is their third full-length production, and was issued in early 2015.
Analysis. As was the case the last time I encountered this band, their music comes across as familiar from the onset, and the album as such is an enjoyable ride through landscapes that all invoke a sensation of familiarity, albeit one that is incredibly hard to pinpoint. Presumably, because the band does blend in details from a wide range of sources, constellations that in sum are hard to pinpoint, due to the origins coming from a number of different places. But defining their style of music is perhaps a tad easier I guess: vintage psychedelic rock with a strong flavor of the ‘60s and ‘70s to it. Throughout the album, there's a folk-oriented mood and atmosphere that come across as as a fairly distinct identity mark, with references to both Americana as well as more traditional European, not to say English, folk music appearing here and there, most notably in the guitar department, but also in some characteristic styles of vocal delivery. As far as the latter goes, I guess it's also fairly easy to add that The Beatles appears to be a notable source of inspiration for some vocal details, alongside traditional blues vocalists. That the band opts to cover Screaming Jay Hawkins’ classic ‘I Put a Spell on You’ probably says something about a source of inspiration for the band as a whole, even if this particular take is done in more of a heavy psychedelic rock coating. The psychedelic aspects of this music are perhaps the most striking feature. Often limited to the guitars, with psychedelic soloing, flavoring both the more ethereal and arguably folky vibes in the calmer passages, as well as the more vibrant, vintage hard rock passages, there's a distinct feel that this is a band whose attitude and style would have gone down a storm at, say, Woodstock, back in 1970. That they also incorporate a few leanings towards the somewhat later glam rock into their stylistic palette is to their credit, I think, and in the delightful, piano driven Evening Drag, do we detect a slight trace of mid-‘70s Elton John as well? Or are my perhaps slightly more zany associations towards the Rocky Horror Picture Show, in terms of music and not visuals, I might add, more appropriate? Be that as it might be, the end result is a vibrant brew of folk, rock and psychedelic details, explored if not always then at least more often than not inside a framework that should please fans of progressive rock.
Conclusion. Simeon Soul Charger comes across as a well developed band with a sound and style that combine being distinctly vintage on one hand and fairly unique on the other. None of the different elements used can be described as novel I guess, but the sum of them adds up into something greater indeed. Progressive rock fans with a strong affection for vintage and presumably psychedelic rock from sometime around 1970 should try out this band for size. I suspect most of them will nod approvingly. In particular those amongst them who enjoy bands adding folk music elements to their material.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 5, 2015
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