For those of us of a certain age – the Sound of Canterbury was progressive-folk in attitude and nature – it included the likes of Soft Machine, Caravan, Camel and Egg. But my auditory senses were awakened, disordered and disrupted – by the musical epiphany I felt I had – when I heard the Surrey rockers ‘Canterbury‘ play a scintillating set at the sunny RedFest a few years ago. Since that time I have been an avid fan of the Farnham lads.
Powerful guitar lines, symmetrical drumming and infectious melodies with cutting-edge production techniques are all part of the Canterbury plan. So I couldn’t wait to get my mitts on their album no.3 titled ‘Dark Days’ (issued by Hassle Records ) :-
‘Expensive Imitation’ has a worrying start – a walk through some twisted, shaded woods. Then the listener emerges into a bright vista of sounds – the light of the sun pokes through the darkness as the song grows.
The guitars sound vexed and the rhythms are perpendicular. The rosy voice rises above a dusty-pollen forest-floor to twist and turn triumphantly in the air. The drumming on this first track is incredibly abundant – and the melodic complexity is remarkable: “Take me to the wolves… take me to the lions…” You’ll be singing this in your sleep!
‘Keep It Moving’ is a pacing street-walker … the juddering wreck keeps plodding on … posibly because there is a glimmer of hope and promise in his/her heart. Then we slip gently into the embrace of ‘All My Life’ – a watercolour wash of electric beauty.
‘Satellite’ shoots in like a speeding meteorite – it’s as hot as a magnesium flare fired from the hip. Then ‘Hold Your Own’ takes an arm as it spins you around the empty ballroom. A trudging piano cranks along, and the thudding bass creates a promontory for some stark vocals to balance precariously upon. The climax – when it comes – is like a sparkling cloud of acid-gas blasting out with tremendous power and gratifying energy.
‘Think It Over’ is like one of those confusing arguments you have with yourself about your soul-mate (it’s confusing isn’t it? ) But we know “It’s just a game…” ‘By The Trail’ is gentle and frost-like. A yellowing organ weeps like melted butter as the grey threadlike voices evaporate in their own heat.
‘Elephant’ is colossal. A hymn with such incredible hydraulics – and so much pure fluid energy – it will knock you over with its power. One of the best songs of the year? You bet it is!
‘Run From A Gun’ is more discreet – almost shy … then ‘Out From the Cold’ rumbles and echoes from inside a luminescent shell. This has a sincerely luscious sound – truly succulent – but it would not be out of place in a run-down neighbourhood. It’s a song to sing from the balconies or from the queue lines. A song to sing on a grey day. When the world is against you. It’s a song about organising one’s inner strength to help overcome each everyday obstacle as it comes. It’s about facing life’s challenges. It’s an amazing track.
The album ends with ‘Going Nowhere‘ , which has more of that sultry organ. This song show-cases the voice of Prebble in the most wonderful way – and the the quality is both lavish and dreamlike.
This is an extraordinary album of inner-strength and unrestrained beauty. And very highly recommended.
– © Neil_Mach January 20134 –