Spoke Of Shadows
Spoke Of Shadows
USA FIREPOOL RECORDS FR005 (2014)
“Mark and Bill met for the first time at a Led Zeppelin tribute show in Dallas, where they discussed the status of their recording project and their love of Gabriel-era Genesis…” Finding a quote like that can do terrible, terrible things to an unsuspecting body. On hindsight, it would have been more sensible to have gone into Texas-based Spoke Of Shadows’ self-titled c.d. devoid of all print support. Luckily, the resulting palpitations were nipped in the bud by my high-tailing it to a local apothecary, where a certain tincture did the trick.
Anyway…regarding their debut; the consensus of Messrs Cook and Bachman (multi-instrumentalist and drummer respectively), was, and I quote, “…to create a hybrid progressive music that covers a wide range of moods and styles…”. Well, not wishing to appear too dogmatic, but prick this and it bleeds crimson. Not copiously, but a fairly steady drip for sure. In amongst the mellotrons, flutes, fretless basses and a pianist/escapee from the Charlie Daniels Band (!!), the K.C. notation and timbre certainly stands tall. More than a good deal of these signatures (in patchworked form admittedly), reference phase one of Rodney Frock’s beat combo (69-74). And, even traces of the American second XI can emerge, due in no small way, to Mark’s multi-stringed Warr guitar contraption type-thing. There’s blurred fret-whizz a-plenty on “Dominion”, “Lost One” and the frantic “Harbinger” and all of these pursue the tight-assed raunch of the ‘Starlessly Red’ era; much akin in feel, to French outfit Das Simple (see Sept. 8th review). However, it’s the more tranquil climates of “Persona” and the rather stately “Splendid Sisters” where the compositions achieve enough individual tonal colour and substance to finally exorcise the spectre of, ahem, ‘you know who’.
USA HC PRODUCTIONS HC017 CD (2014)
The previous disc comes by way of Firepool Records, which is helmed by South California’s Djam Karet; another all instrumental concern; this time that set up shop way back in 1984. They’re a group that I’ve occasionally brushed up against in times gone by, where their Mahavishnu/Viola Crayola-like pyrotechnics and more restrained flights of fusion, have been recorded for posterity by Cuneiform, Syn-phonic Records a.o. Their Regenerator 3017 (c.d.) celebrates thirty years on the periphery of the ‘biz’ and is inspired by the music of the band’s formative years during the seventies. As one of the albums from their substantial back catalogue is entitled No Commercial Potential, you can guess that this self-governing entity couldn’t give a feather or a fig for the trappings of commercioal top forty action. But oddly enough, Regenerator… isn’t as barbed or ear-unfriendly as expected and actually backs up the ‘laid back vibe’ mentioned in the accompanying crib sheet. As medium-paced tracks such as “Desert Varnish” and “Living in the Future Past” never really bust out of their digipacked restraints. With warm fuzz guitar solos arching over Henry Osborn’s supple, Hopperesque bass backbone, this sunny, optimistic jazz-tinged prog outing can certainly hold the attention over its forty-one minutes and suggests there is a little bit of California that is forever Canterbury. As a p.o.i., the band’s monniker is a Balinese phrase for “elastic time”, where the artist (like a UFO abductee?) is so ‘lost in the moment’ that time whizzes by at a seemingly greater rate than expected.
The contact address for both releases is: P.O. Box 1421, Topanga, California 90290, U.S.A.