[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(58:30, Esoteric Recordings)
TRACK LIST: 1. Caterwauling 0:49 2. Soldier of Fortune 11:35 3. The Road to Nowhere 4:07 4. Matilda Yarrow 5:02 5. The Collector 4:02 6. Closure 2:42 7. Always 4:05 8. I Don't Like You 3:32 9. Tonight Could Be the Night 4:10 10. Shoes 3:42 11. Strange Worlds 2:16 12. Quicksand 5:29 13. Blossom Hill 3:48 14. Pills 3:11 LINEUP: Woolly Wolstenholme – keyboards; vocals Steve Broomhead - guitars Kim Turner - drums Craig Fletcher – bass Geoffrey Richardson - viola, violin; flute
Prolusion. Woolly Wolstenholme is something of a living legend in the music business, being one of the founding members of Barclay James Harvest (BJH hereinafter). Wolstenholme left BJH in 1979, and after pursuing a solo career for some time he retired from the music business. However, he returned in 1998 and has since then been actively releasing albums as well as being involved with John Lees' Barclay James Harvest. “Caterwauling” is Wolstenholme's fourth solo release under the MAESTOSO moniker.
Analysis. Wolstenholme's vast experience as a composer and musician is a noticeable trait on this release. Not because there's a flood of challenging, inventive compositions here, and not because all the music here is extremely unique in any way. Rather, his amassed skills are used in a subtle manner, by adding elements and moods to compositions that in themselves are ordinary, transforming them into intriguing and fascinating sonic experiences. Slow to mid-paced mellow pieces dominate this recording, most of the offerings of which could be categorized as ballads. Adding life to these tunes, carefully crafted symphonic keyboards textures and percussion are involved, giving the songs a spirit and a soul that makes them intriguing and interesting. The carefully crafted and often fragile nuances give these mild-mannered songs atmospheres and moods many artists can only hope to achieve. To add variation to this release, as well as to showcase other aspects of his compositional skills, Wolstenholme has included quite a few tracks of a different tone though. The epic Soldier of Fortune, partly chaotic and almost avant-garde in style, partly mellow and folk-influenced, partly epic and symphonic, is a tune where the music interacts cleverly with the lyrics. This is the sort of composition where the listeners needs to pay attention to the lyrics to be able to understand the song, and only in the last sentence of the final verse the listener is served a punchline that transforms this fragmented song into a complete and understandable whole. This interaction between lyrical and musical content is repeated later in the album as well, on the song Quicksand, although in this case the music isn't by far as challenging. Strange Worlds is another tune worth mentioning, starting out as a mellow, space influenced affair, then suddenly taken over by epic keyboards and guitars. This epic theme is then mixed with verses in folk rock style, making this brief cut a rather unique experience. And the final track of the album, Pills, starts out with a sketch, where all of a sudden the song starts, and Wolstenholme sings some thought-inducing lyrics in a tone and voice most often associated with mad scientists in low-budget movies. The main weakness with this release are the vocals. Wolstenholme is not a young man anymore; and in particular in the more energetic and rough-sounding segments of the songs this is easily heard in the vocal performance.
Conclusion. “Caterwauling” is a fairly strong release. Mainly symphonic in style, with subtle and nuanced use of keyboard textures, the majority of the songs will be mostly of interest to fans of symphonic rock of the calmer variety. The more challenging and slightly wacky tunes may also make this recording of interest to broad-minded intellectuals, and Wolstenholme's musical background will in itself see to it that followers of Barclay James Harvest probably have this album on their shortlist already.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 18, 2008
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]