Cherry Red 2018
Marrying KC airiness to VDGG eeriness, art-rock legends deliver luminescent delight.
Here’s an album to defy whatever expectations the listener may have: with the two Davids’ readiness to venture to the edge of delirium, their limit of artistic compromise is set only by ensemble interplay, yet Cross and Jackson were lucky to exist in collectives that knew no creative boundaries. Instead, those bands knew the value of good pun, and now the two men bearing a logo with a couple of bowler hats on found common ground at the gates of dawn, after their joint ventures on-stage facilitated a beautiful friendship and the appearance of this fine record.
A lot of works which strive to mine a similar vein tend to be cerebral, yet these veterans, without letting their intellectual guard down, fill “Another Day” with a different light to allow their fusion flow free until the finale of “Time Gentlemen, Please” brings many a portent home. It’s not an easy, while scenic, route, though. The artists’ skewed manifesto is postulated in “Bushido” whose delicate dialogue of violin and flute feels pregnant with promise and suggestive at the same time, yet the riff-driven “Last Ride” should shatter such a bucolic prospect to anxious smithereens to introduce a dervish dance in which serenity will be but a distant, yet ever-present vision.
To set it, David and David engage in a gypsy waltz of “Predator” and unfold unison thinking before going off on a tangent and circling around unsuspecting ears to trap them in a crazy swirl where echoing snippets of a tune can creep up on you from any angle. Magnetic jazz behind “Going Nowhere” might seem to follow in the giant steps of “Love Supreme” – its mesmeric melody’s meter based around the number’s title – and the abstractness that helps “Trane To Kiev” chug forward must confirm this notion, as Craig Blundell’s military drums add detail to the chamber-like majesty of the track. But the perky, punky funk of “Breaking Bad” with sax and violin bouncing off Mick Paul’s bass sculpts an alternative sort of surprise, and the lyrical landscape of “Millennium Toll” is arresting despite incessant instrumental attack and triumphal push.
Whereas bold brass and adventurous strings vie for sweetly suspenseful emotional supremacy, which also instills the honeyed, albeit solemn, bolero-esque rapture of “Mr. Morose,” the epic romanticism of “Arrival” seamlessly stitches the ghosts of “Exiles” and “Pilgrims” into a single, singular even, tapestry – a penumbral canvas acquiring playfulness in “Come Again” as would befit any Second Advent. Because that’s what it is, experiment-wise, for the two prog veterans: hence the album’s title. This is why “Anthem For Another Day” elevates its translucent layers to spiritual heights – there’s celebration of life at the album’s heart. A latter-day milestone for the two gentlemen.