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Thieves' Kitchen - Shibboleth CD (album) cover

SHIBBOLETH

Thieves' Kitchen

 

Eclectic Prog

3.40 | 37 ratings

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hdfisch
Prog Reviewer
4 stars (Edited 10/4/2005!)

"Shibboleth" is a Hebrew word meaning "ear of grain" and the story behind is recorded in the biblical Book of Judges where it's been used as a linguistic password being pronounced differently by each tribe. In case a spy got knowledge of it he's been immediately unmasked by his mispronunciation. Okay this is just for general knowledge, let's come to the music on Shibboleth album which is much more important. One of its quite obvious features is that it sounds quite different from Argot and not only because vocals are provided by a girl now. In fact what THIEVES' KITCHEN is presenting here is a hybrid of Symphonic Progressive and Jazz-Fusion much in the CANTERBURY vein and it worked out excellent. They did not change much in regards of track length, three of the six songs are clocking between 12 and 23 minutes. Unlike most of contemporary Prog bands this one doesn't have a very clear and obvious connection to 70's Prog. In some parts bands like HATFIELD & THE NORTH, U.K. or HAPPY THE MAN might come to one's mind but the similarities are really not striking. Instead their music is so much extraordinary, often even groundbreaking and they really created their own style. The vocals of the newcomer Amy Darby are really awesome, quite laid back and are a nice balance to the often very quirky music.

The first three tracks are presenting the mentioned "Symphonic Jazz-Fusion" style in a very pure form. But apart from jazzy sections there are as well parts of excellent keyboards and guitar play like the middle one of The Picture Slave. And every now and then there is Mellotron present like in De Profundis which fits together in a wonderful way with the jazzy style. The very proggy Cardinal Red has intricate synth lines and orchestrations plus awesome guitar solos by excellent Guitarist Phil Mercy. Rhythm section by Andy Bonham and Mark Robotham is of a very high level as well. Spiral Bound , the shortest track is a very quiet and mellow song featuring mainly nice piano by Wolfgang Kindl and Amy Darby's vocals. Last two tracks contain in addition some heavy Progmetal-like elements. The very long Chovihani Rise actually consists of two songs, one split up between the beginning and the end, the other one in the middle part and has plenty of Mellotron and melodic guitar sections and the complex interaction between all instruments is just amazing. Surface Tension is even heavier with rough guitar riffs, somber sounding Mellotron and symphonic synths.

CONCLUSION: The new female singer fits even better to the band's style. Shibboleth became an excellent symphonic jazz fusion album with and one that will grow on you with every repeated listening. Highly recommended and I think it even deserves half star more than Argot which was excellent already.

hdfisch | 4/5 |

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