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Comus - First Utterance CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 548 ratings

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4 stars At first, particularly on the opening track Diana, Comus can come off sounding like a malevolent version of Tyrannasaurus Rex (that's the predominantly acoustic duo that Marc Bolan led through four albums in the late 60s, before plugging into glam fame with the electrified T. Rex). It doesn't long however before you realise that Comus' madness is a truly unique experience. At times possessed of a warped pagan brillance and occasionally, just occasionally, too aimless for its own good, First Utterance is one of those records that simply everybody needs to listen to. There really is nothing else like it.

Despite its threatening theme (and First Utterance is full of macabre, occult-influenced themes) Diana is virtually the "pop" track on the album. It's followed by two lengthy laidback tracks. The Herald is eerie and meandering, and a listener can be lulled along by the delightful acoustic guitar work of Glenn Goring. It never gets that complex, but the arrangements are interesting and the blend of acoustic guitar, flutes and violins can be beautiful. The Herald seems to fall out in three separate yet intertwined parts and I swear there are times I hear some whirling harpie voices mixed in.

Indeed the vocal mix of Roger Wooton's piercing jarring voice and Bobbie Watson high and seemingly off-pitch counter melodies are a crucial aspect of Comus' sound. Drip Drip is the other lengthy, sparse song and it takes a while to become interesting. Despite a bluesy start it eventually settles into a frenzied gypsy jig, but it must be said that it doesn't pack half the power of the song that follows.

The undoubted highlight of this album is the stomping, spine-chilling Song To Comus. It is simply one of the greatest tracks I have ever heard. Every dynamic is perfection, from the opening acoustic guitar pick-up, Rob Young's darting flutes, the echoed twisted growling voices and perhaps most of all, the muscular violin work of Colin Pearson. Druidic pagan vibes abound! It is a song that totally rocks ... without any drums!

The Bite is inevitably a let-down, although it is thankfully a gradual one. It's not a bad folk song, and I actually get a Jethro Tull vibe on this one. Bitten is two minutes of hints and sound effects from bassist Andy Hellaby and Pearson and The Prisoner seems to be almost a little too cosy (in an Incredible String Band kind of way), only threatening to gather up steam from time to time.

To me, First Utterance is still one of the those must-listen albums. While I keep wishing that every song approached Song To Comus' quality, there's no doubt that it's all part of a cohesive, if somewhat disconcerting, whole. I have this vague image of myself wandering through an unfamiliar forest guided only by candlelight ... and then I hear Comus ... I'd better stop before I scare myself silly! ... 79% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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