The Right Honourable 2017
Scrutinizing issues of miscommunication, British prog maven wraps words in gloom to bring their meaning into the light.
Having quit TOUCHSTONE put on hold, Rob Cottingham tried to strike on his own, only he seemed to prefer an ensemble format and eventually formed CAIRO. Whether it was wise to make a new English band share their name with an American group that grazed on the same pastures, genre-wise, might be a moot point, yet “Say” is eloquent enough to be heard far and wide. Stricken with nervous electronica and given a vague concept, this album offers a cinematic essay on things too often left unexpressed – and the noir narrative of the otherwise transparent “Shadow’s Return” would still abandon the listener in the dark – but epic “Nothing To Prove” has a lot of blood in its bulging veins and a clear message: once there’s a point, fighting hypocrisy will become a duty.
While the anxious throb of opener “Cairo” sets the scene in the East, the following events are rooted in European soil, “Wiped Out” riding the urban buzz and letting Lisa Driscoll’s vocals introduce the human variable to the grand scheme of chaotic motion. It’s there that the title track’s refusal to believe a lie is dressed in a thick, if multicolored, garb of Rob’s keyboards and stressed by the tight lock of Paul Stocker’s bass and Graham Brown’s drums which strive for an ultimate dance to the edge where “Katrina” doesn’t mince words to convey the sad truth about the handling of a natural disaster by the U.S. government, as James Hards’ guitars soar solemnly to reach the sun and hope. Cottingham’s piano sketching “Concierto de Aranjuez” for “Searching” to give two voices a moonlit path out of the murk, before heavy riffs and handclaps propel “Random Acts Of Kindness Part 1” – ostensibly, “Part 2” has been left out to fit the record’s context – towards ambient, flamenco-tinctured bliss.
When snippets of radio transmissions that permeate the record seep into “Back From The Wilderness” to corrupt the song’s serenity, emotional equilibrium and consequent harmonic triumph loom large, yet “Dancing The Gossamer Thread” unfolds in a life-affirming drama exposing each player’s impassioned performance to the light. If some things must remain unsaid, “Say” is a melodious way to let one’s feelings out; even though there’s no catharsis on the album, its intrigue is captivating.