CYMBALIC ENCOUNTERS – Electricus / Incandescent Spirits

Mark Murdock 2023

Harnessing current to pass cryptic messages along the line, a couple of hair-raising statements sends shivers down the spine.


Devised as a double album yet split in two parts to ease a load on the listener, the unidentical-twin follow-ups to 2022’s almost overwhelming "Overexposure" may share the same timeframe and mindset – and similar structure, too, each record interspersing a few songs with instrumental pieces – but where “Electricus” has experiments as its subject matter, “Incandescent Spirits” makes the trial-and-error method its melodic theme, so there’s a conceptual difference between the two opuses. And, perhaps, there’s no better way to perceive the thought-process of Mark Murdock, the creator of this project whose very name implies an unexpected clash of ideas – not for nothing the former offering’s finale is the vigorous, nervous, spoken-word-ridden and funky “The Hindenburg (The Future Of Human Missions)” and the second’s the pensive “The Disappearing Future” – while catastrophe can hardly be considered a feasible outcome for such a magnetic duplet.

Incandescent Spirits

As much is obvious from the start, and it doesn’t matter which of the gambits one would choose. Both “Within The Lightbulb’s Glow” and “Exploring Minds In The Vastness Of Possibilities” – delivered in Tim Pepper’s soft, non-intrusive voice – are buzzing with synthesizer-sculpted excitement before Murdock’s scintillating ivories and fretless bass pass their bubbling dance-inducing merriment – respectively, sunny and gloomy – to the solemn, glacial grandeur of “Electricus” and “Electro-Luminescence Pulse” to unfold an adventurous path for the willing souls to pursue. Yet if the effervescent pop motifs of “Circuits And Codes” feel deliberately simplified and histrionically dimmed, Joe Berger’s fusion guitar – which will also soar in the most magnificent manner on “Random Reaction” – helps this ballad take off, and though the keyboard passages on “The Flying Boy Experiment” seem understatedly sublime, “Experiments In Static Electricity” proposes pure prog that “Rubber Sole” transforms into a tangible, captivating new-age arrangement.

However, “Voltaic Currents” and “Electrolytes” unveil a heavier aspect of this cosmic enterprise, and “A Surge In Electricity” sends charge into romantic notions, with “power failure” a perfect image of dysfunctional love affairs, whereas “When Sparks Ignite” finds Preston Murdock apply anxiety to his six-string solo to lift his father’s filigree to the lightning-adorned wuthering heights. It’s only logical: after all, thunder and lightning of CYMBALIC ENCOUNTERS are of the same energetical nature.

**** / ****1/3

January 12, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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