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Sanguine Hum


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4 stars Since some years SANGUINE HUM are a trio (guitar, keyboards, bass) in a strict sense. For some time the collaborating drummers Paul Mallyon and Andrew Booker both already had been regular band members in the past, concerning studio sessions as well as their live gigs. Should this be one meaning of Trace Of Memory? Eh, this constellation, well, we don't necessarily have to understand that. A really minor issue anyhow. The chemistry obviously fits, the result is convincing, that's important in the end. SANGUINE HUM are not offering something totally different to the predecessor albums. No, they are trying to refine things again. And it's wonderful again. Simple as that. Yep, still on a high level.

'A Trace Of Memory' is the fifth album recorded under this moniker. But actually their story started with the predecessor outfit named Antique Seeking Nuns, worth it to be explored in the same way. Not really classifiable stylistically. Here we have a balanced blend of short songs and extended pieces, who feature some improvisational attitude. Short wins 5:2 by the way. Roundabout fourty vinyl fitting minutes in total. Whilst starting with the opener New Light, a looping synth intro ... wait, this somehow reminds of the 2015 album 'Now We Have Light'. Another Trace Of Memory? The Yellow Ship then shows some nice jamming minutes in between, embedded in a fantastic relaxed flow overall.

Recognition value immediately, I'm speaking of Joff Winks' acoustic guitar and unique gentle voice. And then surprise, keyboarder Matt Baber is even taking the drum seat on Thin Air. Concerning the closing Automaton his impact is very engaging. The song is partially backed by swirling looping synths, just a proper band trademark. But there's a jazzy electric piano given too, wow! Nice dreamy balladesque moments again and again, and the canterburyesque vibe all over. Another really fascinating SANGUINE HUM appearance. I'm delighted. Over a long period now, just like the US combo Ovrfwrd for example, they are constantly delivering high quality albums. Bravo once again ...

Report this review (#2460369)
Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars SANGUINE HUM is a trio resulting from the ashes of JOFF WINKS BAND and the formation ANTIQUE SEEKING (mixture of ZAPPA and Canterbury). This British group offers us a fifth draft, "A Trace Of Memory" with a cover for the less disturbing ... how would I say ...? Hmmm ... very bloody and a little disturbing when you look closely at the lady! This opus was written during the summer of 2018 and follows the series "Now We Have Power". Provided with two guests, the drummer PAUL MALLYON and ANDREW BOOKER, SANGUINE HUM sends us under the name Neo-Prog a Canterbury instrumental atmosphere and songs drawing on pop music. Guitarist JOFF WINKS has a beautiful organ and lets us know with a subtle and deep voice, which often expresses STEVEN WILSON-like intonations in the phrasing,real talent to make us dream and travel! MATT BABER is a locomotive pulling with it myriads of keyboards all as brilliant as each other, where it is necessary to underline the presence of an electric piano with jazzy tunes bringing depth to certain passages. Bassist BRAD WAISSMAN and drummer PAUL MALLYON are the other keys to this group of artists participating brilliantly and accurately in this celebration.artists participating brilliantly and accurately in this celebration.artists participating brilliantly and accurately in this celebration.

The influences are multiple and make think of a mixture of groups such as MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, TORTOISE, KRAFTWERK, DEVO, XTC, ZAPPA, BIG BIG TRAIN and STEELY DAN, but also of ZOPP new to the world of Canterbury. Their music may seem simple at first glance but make no mistake, with more careful listening it turns out to be much more complex and detailed, with parts that seem to be improvised, and driven by swarming and repetitive variations, giving to this works the feeling of a complete and successful work in KING CRIMSON way, exalted by the ambience embedded in this landscape. The sounds are crystal clear with modern and analytical textures, I want to say that it's fresh and refreshing! The sung passages are always melodic,on the contrary, musical parts passing from one world to another by subtle and progressive passes of arms.

A brilliant and synthetic alarm clock welcomes us kindly in "New Light": a quiet bass temporizes this refrain present throughout 3:04 followed by a calm and luminous guitar. It's beautiful and relaxing, but the desire to go to bed takes me back! (7/10). "The Yellow Ship" is a bravery piece that shows us the touch of this album, both by its duration and by the quality of the proposed arrangements which are linked over more than thirteen minutes with a heavenly melody and instrumental outbursts filled with this energy specific to the group: drum rolls, guitar sounding KING CRIMSON style, HAPPY THE MAN keyboards, timers which sparkle delicately and which last ... and which last for our greatest pleasure (9.5 / 10). Once is not custom,STEVEN WILSON enters through a secret and mysterious door in this "Pyramids" with inside the temple a pop song whose rhythm and sound resemble a carousel that never ceases to spin. At the end of each verse, the voice is minimized on three high-pitched notes taken up by an intense orchestration magnifying this iridescent merry-go-round of bright colors (9/10). "Thin Air" begins with a futuristic synth whose first twenty seconds are of breathtaking ambient beauty, a relaxed guitar explores the surrounding space with jazzy tunes, stocked with Rythmo Latino percussion. This warm and evanescent atmosphere remains firmly anchored to a string of instruments well installed in this back and forth game (8.5).

With "Unstable Ground" I will simply place its initials to avoid being redundant: SW. Yes, once again, always the same ... but there is also the music. This one becomes soft and obsessive by intense instrumental repetitions revolving around a crystalline voice and filled with emotion. Well composed melodies set in fabulous sounds and atmospheres which are just as much ... what talent! (9/10). "Still as the Sea" begins with a piano and a repetitive guitar, the beautiful voice of JOFF WINKS carries us away with her far from here with a well articulated and rising melody. Spinning piano, drums with organic cymbals, slightly jazzy guitar, what a great recipe before attacking the last big piece of this cake (8.5 / 10). "Automaton"is the archetype of jazz merging with beautifully crafted Progressive Rock. You take a big piece of KING CRIMSON, sprinkle YES on it, and heat it all up in a BRAND X oven. Big biting bass led by an electric piano, a vindictive and powerful guitar, all arranged by keyboards multicolored and sharp six-string solos. As on the whole album, no instrument is placed here at random, nothing is recorded to amuse the gallery or offer us neck effects. This piece is a pure masterpiece worthy of the greatest to mark with a white cross! (10/10).and you heat it all up in a BRAND X oven. Big biting bass driven by an electric piano, a vindictive and powerful guitar, all arranged by multicolored keyboards and sharp six-string solos. As on the whole album, no instrument is placed here at random, nothing is recorded to amuse the gallery or offer us neck effects. This piece is a pure masterpiece worthy of the greatest to mark with a white cross! (10/10).and you heat it all up in a BRAND X oven. Big biting bass led by an electric piano, a vindictive and powerful guitar, all arranged by multicolored keyboards and acerbic six-string solos. As on the whole album, no instrument is placed here at random, nothing is recorded to amuse the gallery or offer us neck effects.

Here I am modestly arrived at my twentieth chronicle and this album is, without question for me, the best that I could listen to so far within the framework of my evaluations. With this one the group comes to reinforce its power of fascination, with melodic themes which are always crossed with Canterbury accents, but SANGUINE HUM constantly takes a malicious pleasure to grind them to bring forth convoluted compositions which work wonderfully, and that even. if the richness of the disc actually requires several listening to fully reveal itself. The tones are magnificent, the compositions and arrangements fabulous with a first-rate production. Their music is subtle and powerful like wildfire ready to explode, but still contained with that very British phlegm.These musicians are virtuosos who know how to write and play their scores with rare intelligence and take us very far into their universe! This is a great gift idea for Christmas!

Report this review (#2474770)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one took a few listens for me. It is definitely in the same general mold as their others, but was just enough different to cause a little shock to the system. I feel like there is a little more movement in the guitar, just slightly heavier sounding as well. There are three outright instrumentals and four vocal tracks, although even the vocal tracks consist of a fair amount of instrumental content, especially the thirteen minute "The Yellow Ship".

The tight and somewhat jazzy sound are still here, but throw in some dissonance and some King Crimson like winding guitar lines and it makes for a great listen. Also at only 43 minutes, it does not overstay its welcome. In fact, now that it has grown on me, it leaves me wanting more, which is always good.

Another winner from this under appreciated band. Please give them a listen. Several listens in fact!

Report this review (#2478335)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first listen of this release was underwhelming. What did I miss, was I not focusing? It was good, solid but mellow, sounding familiar. "The Yellow Ship", the available song before the album came out, was awesome. So fast forward to several listens later and I can say, I was so wrong with my initial thoughts on "A Trace of Memory". This is a brilliant release that could now be my favorite Hum. Dark, brooding, heavy, and more Canterbury sounding than their usual output. Superb arrangements and changing moods through each song with plenty of instrumental breaks to showcase the bands fiery passion. Half the album is instrumental, and songs with vocals have space for jamming. Joff is throwing down some awesome guitar riffs. He is a severely underrated guitarist and the rest of the band mates aren't too shabby. I don't understand why they aren't more popular with the prog folks. Easily in my top five albums of 2020. This band deserves more exposure and this release should be required listening for all music lovers. 4.5 stars rounded down, but it may go up with repeated listens.
Report this review (#2479419)
Posted Monday, November 23, 2020 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Once more the boys from Oxford release an album of excellent musicianship, engaging sound, and wonderful production covering a bunch of banal songs that fail to grab or keep a hold.

1. "New Light" (3:04) An instrumental to open the album containing one of the most interesting and completely engaging sound palettes I've ever heard from this band. (8.75/10)

2. "The Yellow Ship" (13:08) opens with a RADIOHEAD sound and feel until the vocals enter, then it's all STEVEN WILSON. It then slogs delicately along for the entirety of its mostly-instrumental thirteen minutes despite several failed attempts to break the chains (at 6:15, 7:55, and 10:35). (21/25)

3. "Pyramids" (4:50) opens with a very strong similarity to STEVEN WILSON's latest more-poppy song styles; though it's still quite definitely prog, it's got that RADIOHEAD simple-feeling complexity. Interesting and different. I like it. (8.75/10)

4. "Thin Air" (4:45) an instrumental with an odd mixture of faded in and out synthesizer sequences over which low notes of a guitar are plucked before bass, electric piano and programmed-sounding drums (Matt Baber) play. Nice build and bridges take us to the three-minute mark where a reverse-noted electric guitar solo is let loose before switching into jazz chords. Nice acoustic guitar and electric piano arpeggiated chord sequence leads us into the Post Rock (Monobody)-like finish. (9/10)

5. "Unstable Ground" (4:10) ominous chords and arpeggi woven together within a syncopated, odd time signature over which Joff sings. The music again reminds me of Chicago avant jazz/Math Rock band MONOBODY. Great section in the third minute. Return to the ominous mood for the final minute. Good stuff. (8.75/10)

6. "Still as the Sea" (3:22) piano and guitar arpeggi interwoven with piano-right hand and Joff's vocal melody-making. At 1:20 we transition into a powerful LYLE MAYS-like jazz piano motif--by far my favorite motif on the album! This is what I've been wanting from SANGUINE HUM ever since then threw away the Antique Seeking Nuns! (9.5/10)

7. "Automaton" (8:49) an instrumental to end the album. A little more interesting and unusual than the rest but still nothing to get too excited about much less quite home about. (17/20)

Total Time 42:08

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. The song "Still as the Sea" is, for me, worth the whole price of the album.

Report this review (#2484187)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album of Sanguine Hum, encounters me in the middle of lockdown, in a time where we put several things under revision. I've listened to the album in several ocassions (loving Spotify right now, and hating guys like Neal morse, Transatlantic who don't manage to put their music there).

This album is a continuos ride, builds up an entire narrative around the magnificent sounds they display. The thing about his album is that it connects toy with contemporary thinking, allows to go an step further and despite the fact of various references to their musical creation, they manage to sound actual, fully engaged with the times ahead.

The opening deserves somthing special, a mixture of electronic soundscapes, textures and the imagination of something far beyond, colourful and really tasty! (fantastic)

Also with Thin Air they managed to conquer my ears and feelings, what an electrifying sense of completion!

I just have to thank these guys for developing such intriguing sounds.

Report this review (#2501904)
Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars SANGUINE HUM is releasing its best album to date: starting with good neo-prog la Genesis revisited, a little electro, a touch of pop, I saw prog a little crazy and singular in itself. Here it is rapid evolution with its own sound, now drawing more towards RADIOHEAD and Steven WILSON.

"New Light" for a dynamic, engaging and a little spleen-meditative instrumental, a tune that trots at the head. "The Yellow Ship" starts with the 2 groups mentioned above with a long melodic and fruity suite, bathed in mainly instrumental art-music. "Pyramids" continues with a slightly synthetic Wilsonian sound, in a fusion of what the members of Thom and Steve could have done. "Thin Air" and a catch-all track with caviar in it: keyboards and electric piano for an ambient tune, a guitar solo then a jazzy tune very smoothly which goes to post-rock in the end! "Unstable Ground" and a torture title with a melancholy, cheerful rhyme, the oxymoremusical prog still there to move us. "Still as the Sea" and the jazzy side that drives home the point, an intimate moment with sharing of the enlightened voice and instruments in particular the piano. Hypnotic title in itself which makes you engage the replay, replay, replay key! "Automaton" for the finale and the 2nd long instrumental track, ambient, progressive, post-mmelodic, which can be listened to without thinking. A BLOOD HUM sound finally. Album of the consecration I do not know, but album that could have passed in my top20 if I had managed to land on it before the end of the year.

Report this review (#2525786)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | Review Permalink

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