Review by Roland Bruynesteyn
Assigned by Franco Micale
When I looked the band up, I found it apparently has a Dutch connection. Some Dutch players went through its ranks and they are (or were) based in Amsterdam for part of their career. Hmm…
First song, I Love You In Your Tragic Beauty, sounds as you would it expect it to sound: somewhat naïve singer / song writer territory with an acoustic guitar. Halfway, more instruments are added, giving it a somewhat classical folky touch. Although not ambitious in any way, it’s a nice way to start the album.
Green Gang starts annoyingly with lots of sitar and tabla shit. Could be my ears, but I have seldom, if ever, heard nice songs with this instrumentation. It also sounds very dated, as if it’s made to entertain their guru, and unfortunately, like most sitar-based songs, it’s way too long, because they want to get that drony feeling across. Halfway through the sitar takes a back seat and some seagulls join in. The last part has some strange singing (“Here comes the Green Gang” repeated over and over again) and sounds like it’s produced by Eno on steroids. The song actually improves as it moves along, but cannot be compared (favorably) with the first one.
Hellsville starts with Pink Floyd sound effects and soon turns quite electronic, not unlike Roger Waters’ latest solo album actually. The voice resembles Roger as well, but that may be the recording. Not much actual melody and not much lyrical development, but groovily atmospheric.
Hellowe’en is a very short interlude, with some industrial sounds. Could be music for some scene in a horror movie.
The Safe Way starts out like a proper song again, a bit like Mercury Rev meets On The Run from Dark Side of The Moon, with a little Clare Torry (being tortured) thrown in for good measure. The song sounds actually good to me, but I think the vocals are lacking in quality and character and (therefore?) mixed in the background.
Just A Lifetime starts nicely with some harpsichord type piano (or guitar). Drums sound like cardboard boxes, but again a nice folksy melody. Vocals sound a little Syd Barrett while living through something quite unpleasant. The song has a strong 60’s vibe and is quite good as the sitars have disappeared. Especially the extended coda may be the best part of the album and sounds like a (better) prequel to Jacco Gardner.
The Death Of Jack The Ripper was unfortunately not available at YT
New Tomorrow starts off with almost Gregorian chanting and some ambient synth tones. Just over a minute in, some vaguely oriental music starts a little folksy melody. Singing voice is, again, a little weak and sounds a little like 80-ish UK indy pop. The music is more ambitious and takes a turn left after 4,5 minutes: there may not be much development but it does not overstay its welcome with me. Nice song.
Princess Coldheart is again a very 60’s sounding song that could have been sung by Syd, partly because of the way the voice is recorded here, but also because of the actual lyrics: In the courtyard flowers bloomed, they draped themselves ‘round tombs and rows of crosses … etc. Again a long coda that is very nice (with a majestically ascending line) and probably the best part of the song.
The Pleasure Palace starts quite industrial and riffy and soon adds processed voices. Sort of a slowed-down Woman And Man by Ween in places. It is a song I do not like, but I can respect it.
The Collector goes for the nice harpsichord sound again, although it may not be a real one. The whispering part is a little silly, but this is one groovy song.
C.V.A. could not be located at YT, but it’s only a 1.15 minute snippet.
What to make of it? It’s an interesting band for sure, and I like the way they structured this album, with some less accessible songs hidden between the twangy psych-folk. It doesn’t all work however, especially the singing voice leaves me wanting. Although you should proceed with caution, and at your own risk, chances are you might like one of their albums and I’ll certainly be investigating them some more.