Sunn Creative 2013
Checking the progress, illusion weavers return to find their old glory and find the devil in the spectacular detail.
When your only album has a mythical air about it – having gained a cult status and lending its title to a blog specializing in rarities – that’s quite a legacy to live up to. But once keyboardist Tony Bronsdon and guitarist Tony Lowe got back together, four decades after their band’s sole LP failed to dent the charts, erstwhile magic reared its Gorgon head so graciously it wouldn’t make any sense not to revive that group’s name. With original bassist Jon Bavin, who delegated his duties to Lowe now, co-writing two tracks on their new album, “Heavy Rock Spectacular” receives more than a worthy follow-up: “Cold Reading” effectively gives the ensemble, rounded off with singing drummer Will Hack, another lease of life.
The warm lyricism of “Like Autumn Now” might mislead those who expect the veterans would keep to their past motions, as they carefully avoid falling into the archaic pit of replicating the group’s old sound. Instead, it gets skilfully updated without attaining a neo-prog cloth – the brisk “New Adventure” even offers a pop riffery to bounce off. Such a modernization errs a bit in the epic “Chasing Red” where piano-propelled balladry seems stifled by art rock’s rulebook complexity, but the Renaissance fusion of “Joust” turns the genre grandeur upside down in a solemn, if jovial, way.
Not afraid of inescapable comparisons with their classic, the trio throw a bridge to the days of yore via revised versions of romantic “Fingal’s Cave” and the Bach-canalian “Fast Decay” which feel more like muscle play than an attempt to prove the band’s current viability, and the space between the deceptively portentous “Climbing The Gyroscope” and groovy atmosphere of “Light At The End Of The Tunnel” is filled with joie de vivre. It flows to the surface of slightly melancholic “Calling Me Home” and throbs in the heavy vibe of organ and lucent trepidation of the six-string that passes its orchestral flutter to synthesizer, while bass anchors the flight, before the title track pour anxiously harmonic soulfulness into the time signatures’ shift.
The cold reading technique – which is an art in itself – demands attention as does this psyche-searching, and soothing, album. Hopefully, given the band’s current strength, it’s a new beginning, and there’ll be more.