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(60:36; Brigand Broadcasting Corporation)
TRACK LIST: 1. Isles of Sopholore 1:57 2. Circus of Morality 5:01 3. Uniforms 5:31 4. Brain 2:09 5. Berlin Between the Wars 5:26 6. Drifting 3:49 7. January 6:25 8. Mr. Hollywood 2:38 9. Hating Hate 3:40 10. This Boat 5:27 11. Earworm 6:00 12. Pantomine 6:16 13. Orange Puddle Soup 6:17 LINEUP: The Captain - vocals, bouzouki, ukulele Muzwell the Mute - accordion, accordina, vibrandoneon with: Adam Summerhayes - violin Damian Clark - synths, programming Peter Earnshaw - percussion, drums Sharon Cannings - harp, backing vocals Alex Eden - guitars Matt Evens - vibraphone Jonny Hulme - banjo Carl Stipetic - piano, bass, harmonium, keyboards Julian Socha - guitars Charlie Draper - theremin Malcolm Strachan - horns Dave Birbeck - trombone Hugh Bradley - bass, flute, mandolin Pig Man - harmonica Steampunk Choir of Notorious Excellence The Captain's Choir
Prolusion. The UK based composer and musician that use the stage moniker The Captain has been leading his venture Captain of the Lost Waves for a good few years by now, starting out doing live shows and then debuting as a recording artist under this moniker in 2017 with the album "Hidden Gems". Since then he has released the compilation album "Synthesis, as well as playing plenty of more live shows, and in the summer of 2019 he was ready with his second studio album too. The production is called "Hidden Gems II" and was released on the Brigand Broadcasting Corporation imprint.
Analysis. I really enjoyed The Captain's first venture out as a recording artist back in 2017, a most charming production that incorporated all kinds of direct and indirect influences from cabaret music, vaudeville sounds and various kinds of folk and folk-oriented music into a most charming, diverse and eclectic full length production. With proper care given to the lyrics department, and with a detailed attention to everything occurring throughout. This second chapter is one where the Captain is focusing his approach ever so slightly though, narrowing the playing field to create an album with a stronger feeling of cohesion and just a little bit more of a uniform style and approach throughout. A bit more predictable perhaps, a bit less of the creative madness one might say, perhaps a bit more planned and structured. It is a different album on many levels, but also more of the same on another level. This might also be a production with a broader general appeal. Folk and folk inspired music is the name of the game throughout here. Plucked string instruments, mainly the bouzouki and ukulele I gather, are paired off with lead and backing vocals, alongside a just about ever present accordion and a just about as prominent violin. Other instruments come and go as additional flavoring, albeit these are only rarely given dominant or prominent placements in the arrangements. That being said, the additional instrumentation does a fine job of adding subtle differences and alterations to a general sound and approach that otherwise might have ended up as a tad too uniform. That a number of guests appears on this production further adds to the subtle variety: With all instrumentalists and vocalists counted, close to 100 people have contributed to the sounds of this album. The greater majority of them in the choir and backing vocals department. The combination of vocals, plucked string instruments, violin and accordion most often made me think about French folk music and the chanson tradition throughout this album. Especially the slower, softer and more melancholic laden creations made me think in that direction, while a select few cuts gave me more of an traditional English folk music feeling. Occasionally I noted that the song was clearly oriented towards or from folk music, without my mind granting me any thoughts as to specific traditions as such. On a few occasions the possible cabaret and vaudeville oriented creations did appear as well, but in more of a subtle manner this time around. Cue 'Uniforms', a song that I find to be a very suitable companion track to 'Danger' from the Captain's first album due to mood, atmosphere and certain vocal cues rather than a truly similar style as such. But whatever associations you get from listening to this album, the most important bit to notice is that the Captain is both creative and innovative. The lyrics are well thought out, the vocal styles used brings something new to the table, and the vocal and instrumental guests all provide something unique, even if not always all that dominant. The songs are elegant and captivating too, with possibly a slight question mark to the numerous cinematic sequences used to transition from one song to the next. And then solely in terms of how endearing this feature is for a broader audience, personally I found this detail charming.
Conclusion. As this review is written for a progressive rock oriented website, I'd say that regular progressive rock fans as such may well not be the intended audience for this specific album. But those who known and enjoy folk music in general and arguably the French chanson tradition in particular strikes me as being something of a key audience for this album, alongside those who treasure folk music that dabbles ever so slightly in the cabaret and vaudeville traditions. A plus point for likely interest will go towards those that appreciate music of this kind made with great care and attention to detail in all departments, up to and including the lyrics.
Progmessor: September 29th 2019
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