record reviews december 2016


OSKAR’S DRUM

A Cathedral of Hands (Ragoora)

oskars

Best known for his work with 90s outfut Kitchens of Distinction, Patrick Fitzgerald returns, this time paired with Yves Altana from Manchester’s Wonky Alice, their name a nod to Gunter Grass novel The Tin Drum, for a collection of angular but melodic pop that kicks off with the chiming, dreamy Green-Veiled Mirror Ghost. The second, Infernal, is slightly more moody, the strings suggesting some period thriller, a mood further accentuated by the track’s atmospheric swirl and dark lyrics.

REM, Scott Walker, Magazine and Siouxsie and the Banshees are trotted out for comparisons and, to some extent, you can indeed hear bits of them all, the likes of Quartz and Blackouts particularly suggesting Howard Devoto and Siouxsie’s inclinations for European cabaret moods, the latter also evoking Bowie’s incursions into similar Berlin territory.

There’s moments of edgy quietness to be found on Water, the waltzing theatrical mood of The Last Time I Saw Roger and, another Bowie echo, Porcelain (The Last Queen of Vietnam) which, in tandem with the brisker, itchy and nervy Shadowlight, underscore the retro art rock nature of the project that, as well as those touchstones mentioned above, would also sit well with fans of David Sylvian, John Foxx and The Pet Shop Boys.

Mike Davies


EBBOT LUNDBERG & THE INDIGO CHILDREN

For The Ages To Come (Haldern Pop)

ebbotlundberg

Former frontman with Soundtrack Of Our Lives and Union Carbide Productions, recorded in hometown Gothenburg, Lundberg makes his solo debut backed by the Grammy-nominated The Indigo Children with an album firmly rooted in 60s psychedelic beat pop, So loads of jangling guitars and cascading chords that call to mind the likes of early Floyd (especially on opener Backdrop People and the Barrett-like title track), The Byrds, Usher, the Moody Blues, Kaleidoscope, et al. Most tracks over around the three to four minute mark, but Calling From Heaven clocks in at a six-and- a-half, complete with sitars, a touch of spaghetti Western and shifting time signatures and tempos and, aside from a brief stretch in the middle, is mostly instrumental.

Drowning In A Wishing Well touches on Bacharach and David territory, but that dreaminess is splintered by the prog rock arrival of Don’t Blow Your Mind, the contrast illustrating the album’s sonic spectrum, although, throughout, there’s a big emphasis on harmonies and melodies, cases in point being the piano waltzing Little Big Thing and the somewhat more ebullient Calling From Heaven. On the other hand, the atmospheric I See Forever nods to the more experimental side of Lennon. The album ends on a baroque psych pop track titled, To Be Continued. Let’s hope so.

Mike Davies

roots-and-branches.com 2016