Esoteric Antenna 2014
Bristol quintet warm up the atmosphere on their second album. Big time beckons.
Cover versions speak volumes of any artist’s inclinations, so when this collective released a 7″ single of a THIRD EAR BAND piece they drew a lot of attention, and while their self-titled debut, released independently, might signal a cult following, its follow-up is a game changer. Yes, it’s a game, and it was an ingenious move to color the ensemble’s second longplay in ochre: as a result, otherwise cold grooves become sunlit, and the scaredy implication of its title, inspired by Vilgot Sjöman’s film, gets turned into creative recklessness. Not that it lies on the surface, though.
It takes a few tracks for “Magpies” to flutter around the rocksteady laid-back groove which contrasts the song’s Arcadian setting just like the six-string sustain undercuts the sonic miasma of “Vapour”. It’s hard to measure the polyphonic depth of the minute-long “Komorebi” or the motorik injections into “Fragmenting Sons” once the title track has introduced some real rocking and clapping to the table. Yes, it’s deadly humorous inside, and “Squaretaker” sees James McKeown’a axe building up the tension from the Frippian blues to the heavy riffs as it to hint at the fact that serenity can’t be the group’s natural habitat.
But while the snail-paced “Circles In Halftone” swirls on drone and hypnotic drumming, and opener “Digitalis” rests on a repetitive guitar figure, that’s what sucks one in to treat to the wonder of Maria Charles’ voice – painting psychedelic patterns in folky terms. “1000 Years” is a small epic in which all the wax blobs of the band’s lava lamp dance into the transcendental, beyond the obvious. Curiouser and curiouser, indeed!