THE CONTRAST – Madhouse Of Inventions

Secret Shark 2018

THE CONTRAST - Madhouse Of Inventions

THE CONTRAST –
Madhouse Of Inventions

Songs from the sanitarium we have to live in that make this living easier.

It’s difficult to find a way out of an area if you covered all the bases, because there’s nowhere to go – and that what seems to have happened to this ensemble after 2013’s "A Sinister Flick" saw them play out an aural film. Fast forward five years, and the sixteen numbers which form “Madhouse Of Inventions” capture David Reid and his colleagues clutching to various curios in order to make sense of current affairs. So while the album may feel a bit overwhelming, there’s a logical reflection of today’s turmoil.

As the folk-tinctured “Sinister London” bridges the gap between the previous record’s period and pre-Brexit climate, and opener “Bureaucrats” announces the songs’ agenda – their twang laced with retrofuturistic buzz to spur Reid’s deadpan vocal delivery – lyrical atmosphere and pessimism get thicker, allowing the muscular “Before This Caper Goes Down” to smear subtle detail into monotony. Yet whereas backing voices enhance the overall mockery, heavy organ waves that the title track is rolling on give it gravity, David’s guitar solo stinging rather venomously – only to introduce romance to “The Holy Grail” though the mix of riffs and strum.

Still, neither raga nor psychedelia can spice up “Updates” or “The Vulture Squadron” whose galloping grooves are punchy, but not catchy enough, although six-string crunch and cello pull “What Do You Get” out of miserable flow for the piano of “Pigless Head” to bring a sad smile to the listener’s lips. Inner fears are raring to come out anyway, as the dim “Demons From Your Id” suggests, despite Simon Russell’s Manzarek-like keyboards on “River Of Infra-Red Light” which bring a rhythm-and-blues looseness to the table. Whether this and other tables can be turned to let the U.K. find a way out is unclear, yet the soundtrack to the goings-on is here.

***3/4

January 28, 2019

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