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Comus - First Utterance CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 548 ratings

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3 stars I only got acquainted with Comus in 2008 when their reunion concert was announced as a part of the Melloboat cruise, which also featured Anekdoten, Opeth and Mats-Morgan + special guests. After seeing this band in such a good company it made me even more interested in this little known '70s treasure. At first I hesitated to pay the price of almost $30 for a Japanese paper sleeve edition of First Utterance but seeing the praise that this album has received in the prog community I felt obliged to bite the bullet and lay my money down.

What I was met with was quite an extraordinary take on the Prog Folk genre that I honestly didn't expect to hear on such an early recording. Granted that the golden years of Prog Folk were between '71-'72, Comus' First Utterance didn't really fall in with the classics like Aqualung, Thick As A Brick or Stormcock. This was quite different beast that, to my ears, sounded more like a dark and more sinister version of the band Curved Air. Even thought I was positively surprised by what I heard this album was far from an easy listening experience meaning that I need to take at least one break throughout the record's 50 minute duration. There was something in this music that felt dark and unsoothing for my tastes. Eventually I began feeling comfortable listening to First Utterance but this didn't really make me want to pick it off the shelf on a spontaneous occasion. Even today I felt like a mental preparation was in order before I pressed play on my player.

The opening track Diana is probably the most digestible track of the bunch with a well defined chorus and overall structure. This is of course more an exception than a rule and the 12 minute long The Herald highlighted this very clearly. The lengthy track had an almost hypnotic, psychedelic-like, quality to its middle section which makes it stick out even more out of the bunch. Drip Drip is a notorious composition that has inspired quite a few generations of fans among which is Mikael Åkerfeldt who even titled the third Opeth album with a direct quote out of its lyrics.

Song To Comus is the most melodic moment which might not be all that representable for the rest of this material, still it's easily my favorite performance which probably tells you more about me than anything about First Utterance. The combo of The Bite/Bitten is another occasion that reminds me a great deal of Curved Air. The latter of the two is a dark and atmospheric instrumental that I guess is suppose to depict the restlessness and transformation. The final track, The Prisoner, is actually a bit of a disappointment in both its lyrical and structural arrangements. After such a strong performance throughout the rest of the album Comus delivered a very ordinaire conclusion that doesn't really fit in with the moody material before and instead reminds me more of a Jefferson Airplane performance from around that same era.

It's undeniable that Comus recorded something unique with their first utterance on the music world which should be enough for me to recommend this album. Unfortunately I'm still struggling to truly enjoy this music which ultimately makes it impossible to award it more than a very strong good, but non-essential grade on my part. I'm sure that this recording will receive a few more revisits from me over the years by I doubt that it will ever become an important part of my record collection.

***** star songs: Song To Comus (7:30)

**** star songs: Diana (4:36) The Herald (12:11) Drip Drip (10:52) The Bite (5:29)

*** star songs: Bitten (2:19) The Prisoner (6:18)

Rune2000 | 3/5 |


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