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Talk Talk - Laughing Stock CD (album) cover


Talk Talk


Crossover Prog

3.96 | 302 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Talk Talk loses bassist Paul Webb, replaced by two session men who play acoustic bass, and Hollis with Lee Harris, but in reality with Tim Friese-Greene they publish an even less commercial art-work than the previous one, ever closer to free-jazz and free-folk with chamber ensemble. The sounds seem only hinted at, without being developed, the melodies are almost always truncated, it is music of pure suggestion, which produces evocation of atmospheres.

1. Myrrhman (5:33) Minimalist, jazzy music, Hollis' voice as protagonist, minimal, acoustic orchestral sounds, which are painted softly, almost in a low voice, as if we were at a meditation in the church, great suggestion, a lot of atmosphere, little melody. Rating 7,5.

2. Ascension Day (6:00) Here the drum snare pulses and the electric guitars are distorted, in a cold but dry, hard, almost hard rock arrangement, with a beautiful singing, and after two verses the electric guitar is released with a loud crescendo that ends suddenly. The masterpiece of the album and it is not a case that this is the most gritty song, the only one where the drama deflagrates. Rating 8,5.

3. After the Flood (9:39) Relaxed ballad, marked by keyboards and by the rhythm of the drums, which remains the same from the beginning to the end, and this is a handicap because the beauty of Talk Talk's music is now all in its unpredictability. Here the voice flies on the high notes in the refrain which, however, does not reach the peak of pathos of Spirit of Eden precisely because the rhythm continues always the same, and does not adapt to the dramatic crescendo. Then comes a good distorted guitar solo, which is more of a paroxysmal repetition of the same riff, then a keyboard solo, and finally a verse and chorus again. Atmospheric piece. Rating 7,5/8

End of Side A.

4. Taphead (7:30) Beautiful song, that part suffused, whispered, and then develops a wonderful instrumental part where the accumulated tension struggles to come out, we are at very high levels of refinement, cerebral and cold emotions, and only certain whispers of Hollis' voice or some instruments they bring out the pathos, the drama, which remains almost harnessed, except for a few seconds of final explosion. Rating 8+.

5. New Grass (9:40) This is the second long ballad conducted by the same rhythm of the drums, exactly like After the Flood but here the atmosphere is more cheerful, with an higher rhythm. But the phrases on the drums and on the guitar tend to be too repetitive and the central instrumental solo is almost immobile, Talk Talk seem to aspire to silence or to the ecstatic musical phrase to be left bare. Rating 7+.

6. Runeii (4:58) Minimalist song with voice and electric guitar, similar to the last song of the previous album, which was arranged with keyboards and vocals. This one is too nuanced, too soft. Rating 6,5/7.

Talk Talk continue in their evolution towards post-rock music increasingly similar to free-jazz, cold, sophisticated music, almost chamber music, where the structure of the songs is increasingly disarticulated. The record is remarkable but has a limit: the search for original and minimal sounds becomes conditioning towards the melody and the pathos, In Spirit of Eden, the musical qualities allowed to pass from a slow, dilated music, which had to overcome an inertia, to a music where voice and instruments finally exploded in powerful and dramatic moments. In this second record, the initial, inertial part of the songs is disproportionately dilated, and the final part, deflagrating, cathartic, struggles to arrive, Talk Talk prefer to mention it rather than develop it, so the inertial tension that pervades the songs does not have a true liberating outburst, it remains bottled in sounds and it is expressed only through hinted musical phrases, however beautiful and refined. This characteristic reduces pathos and emotions.

Rating: 8,5. Four Stars

jamesbaldwin | 4/5 |


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