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(57:45, ‘Moon Brothers Music’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Rage 6:02 2. Breathe in the Water 8:00 3. Vice Versa 6:54 4. Places to Hide 5:08 5. Plague 47 4:42 6. Welcome to the Vampire State 6:05 7. Tall Ships 6:10 8. Come What May 4:12 9. Hold Me 7:53 10. After One Bright Midnight 2:39 LINEUP: Ken Campbell – guitars; keyboards; vocals Tony Hodge – drums; programming Leen – bass Kenny Haig – vocals Eilidh Maclean – vocals Ali Mitchell – keyboards Lynne Campbell – vocals; percussion; keyboards
Prolusion. The UK band CROOKED MOUTH is led by composer and musician Ken Campbell, and is a venture that has been in existence in multiple forms ever since 2001 and with three full length albums to their name so far. "One Bright Midnight" is the most recent of these, and was released through the presumed private label Moon Brother Music at the start of 2015.
Analysis. This third outing from the curiously named Crooked Mouth band is an album as curious as the band name is. It opens up in a strong and compelling manner, with a handful of songs that are easygoing, enjoyable and are generally as interesting as intriguing. Somewhere along the way this production takes on a different character however, and becomes much more of what I'd describe as a niche-oriented affair. As might be expected, I find the opening songs on this CD to be the most interesting. In terms of general style they operate roughly within a neo-prog-meets-hard prog territory, with careful keyboards supplementing harder edged guitar riffs in some cases and gentler, more delicate guitar motifs elsewhere. These songs are easy on the ears and the mind, with a strong focus on melody and harmony, and at times with something of an AOR touch as far as the chorus passages go. Liberal amounts of layered backing vocals and occasional vocal harmonies are a feature here as elsewhere, this detail one of the defining details of this production as a whole alongside a firm, driving bass-line. As the CD unfolds, the songs become much harder to categorize though. The various compositions tends to maintain a dominant gentle expression, with a ballad-oriented specimen or two thrown in as well, but the song structures as well as some of the arrangements takes on a rather quirkier approach and execution. Some floating King Crimsonian guitar solo textures here, unusual patterns and structural developments there, and I often found myself thinking on what certain songs were actually made out to be. Kind of the audio experience or witnessing a puzzle with too many pieces, some of which don't fit the picture at all, even if the shape does. The songs are excellently made though, but for my sake, many of these creations became more odd and puzzling than mesmerizing and intriguing. Songs with a firmly heavy emphasis on the art rock aspect of progressive rock if you like and, at least as I experienced them, songs that have a stronger appeal to the mind than to the soul.
Conclusion. A fairly light and elegant variety of progressive rock that is paired off with harder edged sequences and occasionally full songs taking on this firmer sound as well are the key aspects of this album as I experience it. Those fond of neo-progressive rock taking on an occasional harder edged sound appears as something of a key audience for this production, and then especially those who also favor occasional servings of quirkier progressive rock with more of an art rock spirit as an ongoing feature. A production with something of a niche appeal, as I regard it, and one that will most likely be cherished by those in this specific niche.
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