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Thieves' Kitchen - The Water Road CD (album) cover


Thieves' Kitchen


Eclectic Prog

3.63 | 89 ratings

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1 stars An Odyssey by Narrowboat Through England's Waterways, by Paul Gogarty

Well, I Googled the title, and that's what came up...

And certainly, there seem to be many parallels to draw here - narrow, winding, often meandering and occasionally messy; And operating a narrow boat requires very little skill or expertise, anyone could do it, - you don't do it for scintillating, exciting and new experiences, but for that gentle, familiar, golden glow feeling.

That is exactly what this album is like - it takes what seems like forever to get from A to B, doesn't do anything interesting in the passing moments, but the production and arrangement is generally lush, so that you can simply wallow in the sound and ignore the actual music if that's how you like to experience it.

But the challenges I like from music are those presented by interesting compositions that present themes and develop the musical ideas, that tell a story as much through the music as through the lyrics, and that is not what I'm getting here - so if this is what you relish in Prog, then this album is well worth skipping over.

What's to like?

What's not to like?

At the beginning of The Long Fiasco, er, I mean Fianchetto, we get this kind of tinkly piano, that starts out a bit Debussy in style - which is nice, but quickly descends towards Satie - by which I mean it gets simpler and simpler, and seems to run out of steam - I don't feel any continuity in it, then there's nothing but background pad until the bass and drums kick in with an entirely new and unrelated idea.

The fretless bass simply annoys me - I can't put my finger on why (well, I could, but I get the impression that this is not complex music worthy of analysis, as some reviews I've read would have me believe, but instead, very simple music just trying to be a bit different. And let's get this straight - different is not the same as Prog) - it seems the bassist is relishing the ability of the instrument to make the sound and that's it.

This goes into a cello-led section with a somewhat la-la-la melody in a low register, which creates an overall muddy sound (a bit like the bottom of a canal, perhaps), and the guitar joins in for what could possibly be interpreted as a duet - but the harmonisation is weak and laboured, the bass not contributing a solid feel either.

Then into a herky-jerky Prog-styled rhythm and more messy harmony - don't try to tell me it's jazz- inspired - it's a mess. This is really quite painful and sounds incredibly amateurish.

An inexplicable piano ostinato takes us into a broken up heavy section with loads of changes - if you like loads of changes, then you may well like this, but to me, it's more meandering mess, with that ostinato becoming ever more annoying as the piece continues.

Oho - then the strains of a Mellotron - well, you can't really go wrong with a Mellotron, can you? Yes. You can, if everything around it sounds awful.

Well, tell a lie - the actual sounds are really good - the production has been extremely kind to the guitar, organ, bass and drums, although the music is savaging them in a terrible, mindless jam based on simple, repeated ideas that aren't that good to start with.

Then the guitarist rolls out something he might have nicked from Andy Latimer, and a new song appears. No, it's not the same song at all - these are new ideas, unrelated to the previous material, except that, at the first opportunity, the band go off into another mindless jam.

Complex is not the same as complicated, progressive is not the same as a bit different, and this is neither complex nor progressive.

On a completely different subject, because people often confuse what I said above for meaning what I'm about to say, I really, really don't like this - so won't insult the band or their fans by analysing any further - this is not music for analysis, as it simply is not at that level.

That is not to say that it isn't music that you won't enjoy - it depends entirely on your tastes.

It's definitely not music I enjoy, it's not Prog, and, in my humble opinion, is the same as a few hundred miles of canal water. Long, dull, messy and not somewhere I'd care to invest too much of my time.

Certif1ed | 1/5 |


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