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(61:33, 'Crooked Mouth')
TRACK LIST: 1. How Do We Survive 1:38 2. David & Goliath 7:07 3. Iron Wonders 8:47 4. Stand 3:34 5. The Sun Never Sets 4:01 6. Delta 8:17 7. Two Worlds 4:30 8. Idiotsublime 4:09 9. Ether Street 8:25 10. We Are 4:01 11. Touching the Heliosphere 7:01 LINEUP: Ken Campbell – el. & ac. guitars Alison Mitchell – keyboards; flute Tony Hodge – drums; programming Kenny Haig – lead vocals Lynne Campbell – b/v Eilidh McLean – b/v Leen – bass With: Mike McCann – bass (3, 6, 7, 10) Mike Warren – cello (7)
Prolusion. The Scottish band CROOKED MOUTH has existed since 2001, but “Hold in the Sun” is only their second release to date.
Analysis. Prior to listening to “Hold in the Sun” I have refreshed my memory about the outfit’s self-titled debut outing from 2004, and the result is not in favor of the hero of this occasion. Unlike its predecessor, this creation is instantly accessible – a matter I usually perceive as a disturbing sign. My experience of many years as a progressive music lover shows it very rarely happens that the upon-the-first-spin-likeable recordings get better with successive listens, and this one is not an exception to that rule. Three of the eleven tracks here are unvocal pieces, of which the two that the album begins and ends with, How Do We Survive and Touching the Heliosphere, respectively, could have easily been omitted. In spite of their titles, the pieces themselves aren’t too picturesque, both representing plain spacey Ambient, with slowly drowning synthesizers and programmed drums coming across as their main features. All the other, still yet to be named, compositions are overall pretty decent, but anyhow none can be put on the same level with those from the band’s first release, though. The remaining instrumental, The Sun Never Sets, also has a certain ambient quality to it, but oversteps the bounds of the style, involving more real instruments and specifically standing out for the resourceful piano passages that run all through it, all alone within its last third which therefore appears as a fairly long piano postlude. The eight vocal tracks all find front-man Kenny Haig being more often supported by two females than handling the duties of singer exclusively on his own, the choral melodies leaving a much better impression than the man’s arias – or solo parts, if you will. Woven of semi- and purely acoustic sonic fabrics, respectively, We Are and Two Worlds are each quite a simple, yet tasty and original creation, not without a chamber flavor. The remnant pieces, David & Goliath, Iron Wonders, Stand, Delta, Either Stree and (the basically slow-paced) Idiotsublime, are all built up by a similar compositionally-stylistic scenario, with three main planes of play going on in all cases. A reflective post-Pink Floyd Art-Rock with fluid guitars, soaring pianos, floating synthesizers, slightly pulsating bass lines and overall leisurely drumming covers on average about a half of each, the female vocals rather often resembling of those on “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” or “The Dark Side of the Moon”. When the band speeds up, and bandleader Ken Campbell begins laying down some heavier riffs, the music transforms into Hard Rock, even with hints of NWBHM at times (such as on Either Street: think Nazareth playing with the energy of Judas Priest, for instance), with the piano solos or synthesizer strings appearing here and there as its secondary traits. Finally there are also some rhythmically pronounced moves on each – those only featuring Kenny’s singing in most cases – during which I’m rather strongly reminded of Dire Straits at their most conventional.
Conclusion. Crooked Mouth’s command of melody is still solid, but anyhow “Hold in the Sun” signifies the outfit’s turn from quite sophisticated Art-Rock to the simplified, often bordering on mainstream Prog, side of the style, which disappoints. In the final analysis, only the largely instrumental David & Goliath seems to be progressively adequate, compared to the band’s previous effort above all, of course.
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