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Lost Crowns


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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Eclectic Team
5 stars This debut release has been eagerly anticipated amongst fans of the current vibrant London scene that includes bands like Knifeworld, Prescott & Stars In Battledress. Lost Crowns are a supergroup led by Richard Larcombe (Stars In Battledress) with members of the previously mentioned bands and North Sea Radio Orchestra & Scritti Politti.

The band plays psyche avant wonky pop with all songs written by Richard Larcombe. There are stellar performances all over the album with a lovely blend of guitar, bass, drums, reeds and keyboards. These are songs but with a density and complexity that will take multiple listens to open up.

Highly recommended, a joy of an album that is certain to be amongst my favorites in the year end lists.

Report this review (#2133586)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2019 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars "Lost Crowns" is a new RIO/Avant Prog supergroup who has just released their debut album, "Every Night Something Happens", in January 2019. There are members from several other bands here including Scritti Politti, Stars in Battledress, North Sea Radio Orchestra and others. This album was highly anticipated in the UK and has been getting some glowing reviews. The music is quite dense and all the instruments are involved throughout the album in much the same manner that Frank Zappa's most complex music was. But, the sound is quite unique and more consistently dense. The members basically act as a mini-orchestra featuring both standard instruments and others that are more unique like a recorder, harmonium, hand bells, saw, and so on. All of the songs are written by Richard Larcombe who is also lead vocalist and guitarist.

"Housemaid's Knees" starts off the oddness with a drone and a guitar playing a somewhat celtic vibe. Right away you know you are in for something strange, unique and a lot of fun. When the quirky vocals start, the strangeness only gets better, and if you thought you were going to settle in to any single style, you just as well forget about it. Complex is definitely the right word as nothing is standard at all. The melody goes everywhere, and you think there really is nothing thematic about it, but there is, it just takes time to find it. I love the sound as you get a nice, retro sound when the instrumental break comes along and the keys tie everything together for a while, but it all gets frayed apart by the end. This is quite an impressive 10 minute opener that will definitely get your attention. You won't come out of it whistling any melodies at first, but you might after several listens, but people will look at you strangely. Besides, who whistles nowadays anyway?

The shortest track, named "Lost Crowns", comes next, and has the structure of a "Kayo Dot" track, but is much too bright with a folk vibe to it to sound like them. It's the flute against the complex vocal melody that reminds me of them. Later there are two different meters playing against each other before the vocals come back. "Sound as Colour" comes next. The vocals are sung with a melody full of running quarter and eighth notes jumping every which way without hardly a break for a breath, and harmonies actually come in later proving that these are not just random notes. Again, the melody is playing against a foundation set in a different meter. At 5 minutes, there is a change of direction as the bass takes over the melody line while keys embellish around it and a screeching guitar plays in the background. If you think of this song as an instrumental, then you would definitely hear the similarities with FZ's more complex compositions as the techniques are much the same. There is nothing wrong with that because there are not many musicians that can write in this style.

"Midas X-ray" has the vocals and the band playing the melody more in tandem, and this is very difficult considering the complexity of it all. Don't worry, it's not all in tandem as there is plenty of embellishment in the instruments, but the difference here is that you don't have competing meters like in previous tracks. The clarinet and bassoon play the melody in dissonant harmony for a cool effect at the last part of the track. "She Saved Me" has a steady walking rhythm and bass, but everything else is completely off in another universe all together. And you get harmony again in another complex melody line. Impressive! "Dandy Doesn't Know" has more of an acoustic vibe to it with piano and acoustic guitar with vocals with a more laid back feel. The piano, at times, follow the vocal melody while at other times chimes follow allowing the piano to go off elsewhere. It's a nice soft track that is still complex, but with less involvement, so it's a good break for dynamic purposes. Later, as things remain pastoral, you get counterpoint melodies playing together.

"Let Loving Her Be Everything" returns to complexity and a heavier sound. Vocal harmonies are intriguing as the are more dissonant now, but following the melody at a strange interval. Again, there are a lot of musical layers here with vocals, guitars, bassoons, flutes, synths, percussion all working oddly together in a "Henry Cow Out on the Farm" kind of a way, but with vocals. It has the neo-jazz feel with a folk undertone. There is more in tandem showing off later in lower registers. "The Star of My Heart" begins with crashing cymbals before another complex vocal melody starts. Some instruments follow the vocal melody while others play in another meter with the percussion. There are sections with a more subdued and echo effect where things quiet down a bit, but all the while, synths provide fluttery effects around everything. The sax is also featured in the track.

January 2019 has been a huge month for new releases as far as quantity goes, and this album is another big stand-out from all of the new releases. This is definitely one of the top releases so far this year and completely deserves the high praise it has been receiving. Lovers of Henry Cow, the more complex Frank Zappa and Kayo Dot will love the complexity of these tracks. The music is dense, but not in a wall-of-sound kind of a way, but more in an "orchestral" way where every instrument can be heard. This album will definitely be in the running for the best of 2019, even this early in the game.

Report this review (#2133853)
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lost crowns is band with members from a number of different bands yet I am reluctant to call them a 'supergroup'. The main man Richard Larcombe was with his brother in Stars of Battledress. An excellent band but one of the most unprolific in the scene.

As much as I like Stars in Battledress, 'Everynight something happens' is Richard Larcombes crowning achievement. It is a mix of Psycedelic pop, folk and Avant prog. Altough you can recognize elements of the music of henry Cow, Syd Barret and the 5UU's just to name a few, the sum of all the parts does not really sound like anything else out there. It is catchy yet complex, cheerful yet profound, adventurous yet accesible. It is an album for all moods and seasons with plenty of tricky bits and layers to make sure that it does not get easily boring.

It has been a few years since I have felt this enthousiastic about a new release. I will be very surprised if this album will not end up as my nr 1 of 2019.

Report this review (#2134028)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't like a lot of RIO stuff. But most of this album sounds like people trying to actually make music, just expand and experiment on standard vertical and horizontal harmonies. The more familiar harmonies are there if you listen hard enough of. It's somewhat like Echolyn, only not as accessible. I definitely think it deserves the 2nd from the top slot for the year that it's currently in.

It just seems to defy a track-by-track listing, especially on first listening. But I plan on listening again. I can give it a 4. It would make an *interesting* addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#2152694)
Posted Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Lost Crowns is a new group, even though the people involved have been around the scene quite a while. This diverse set of personnel has been brought together by songwriter Richard Larcombe (Stars In Battledress), who dragged in Charlie Cawood (Knifeworld, Tonochrome, My Tricksy Spirit) on bass, keyboardists Rhodri Marsden (Prescott, Scritti Politti) and Josh Perl (Knifeworld), and Nicola Baigent (North Sea Radio Orchestra, William D. Drake) on clarinet ? together with Keepsie on drums. I have read a few reviews of this album and am intrigued that no-one has yet to pick up on the hugely obvious influence, which was apparent the first time I heard it, namely Tim Smith and the mighty Cardiacs. 'Sing To God' is as important an album today as it was when it was released more than 20 years ago, and I wonder if this is going to be treated with the same reverence and care.

It is pronk, it is prog, it is indie rock, it is RIO, it is avant-garde, it is anarchic, structured, complex, simplistic, mainstream, none of these, all of these, and so much more. The simple bass and drum introduction to the song of their namesake contains a great deal of space which the addition of gentle vocals and complex clarinet (and then guitar) does nothing to dispel. They keep making me think of a Gong for the 21st Century, psychedelic sounds which come together to make perfect sense in a way no-one else has imagined. Richard's attitude to music was apparently formed by The Incredible String Band and Syd Barrett but, "The missing element for me in the psych-rock canon is complexity", says Richard. "To me the combination is essential. Psychedelic pop became prog rock, but the fluttery, out-of-it surrender got lost in the transition to more elaborate arrangements. The intricacy of Lost Crowns is meant to add to the evocation of visionary experience."

This is an album which makes me think of cassette decks, live performances, smelly crowds at The Marquee or The Standard, in awe of what was being portrayed in front of them. I am convinced this will be in my Top Ten at the end of the year.

Report this review (#2205629)
Posted Saturday, May 25, 2019 | Review Permalink
2 stars Interesting, that people like this. I mean, sure, music should push boundaries and stuff, and I've listened to my share of disjointed dissonant avantgarde, but for some reason this album is just a chore to listen too. They do not use microtones, as The Mercury Tree, but honestly, Mercury Tree was more pleasant to listen too. And it's not just dissonance of the music, the production is not very good, the vocalist is irritating. I found it sounded very similar to Cardiacs in some places, but I have never been a huge fan of the latter and my heart is yet to open to their music (or at least my mind). Don't let my review fool you, I'm in minority here, apparently people like this album very much. I really wanted some good avantgarde, but this is not it for me.
Report this review (#2280149)
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's been years since i did a review. I came back to tell you this album caught my attention after i read some great things about it written by other reviewers. I gave it a try and it blew my mind at first listen! Avant-garde is a complicated genre cause you got lots of unusual melodies and rhythms. Lost Crowns seem to have found a sweet spot where dissonance, at a moderate tempo, actually gives you time to incorporate musical information. After a couple listens i started to memorize some of the lyrics and polyrhythms (which normally takes more time to me), which means despite the experimentation this is actually an accesible album, compared to other ones at this level of complexity. 5/5. Can you believe they can play this songs live?
Report this review (#2498308)
Posted Saturday, January 30, 2021 | Review Permalink

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