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Comus - First Utterance CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 548 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars WOW!!!

Not quite a masterpiece of prog, IMO, as it is much closer to a folk-rock/psychedelic album than prog rock; You will find no symphonic leanings, no attempts to rock out, in fact little that says "prog" to you.

That said, this is incredible stuff, and if you are a fan of the INCREDIBLE STRING BAND or LOVE, or just after something rootsy and folky but with a much darker twist, then this is definitely for you!

I get the feeling that "First Utterance" is based on "A Maske" (Comus) by John Milton, and reading that poem will set the scene very well for this album, which would provide a good background for such a "Maske". Overall, the music has a sublime and crisp improvisatory feel, and if "World Music" is your bag, then this is a real find.

"Diana" seems to have taken the bass line from "We've Got To Get Out Of This Place" (The Animals, 1965) and mashed it up with manic vocals and odd orchestration, in which a slightly amateurish violin dominates. The vocals range from haunting female tones, similar to EMMA KIRKBY (singer of mediaeval music with am outstandingly pure tone) to male voices bleating like sheep and chanting like American Indians. The percussion generates a primitive beat that seems to resonate deep in the soul. Not exactly easy listening - but Comus maintain the intrigue and leave an open invitation to return to their music any time.

While "Diana" had some form of structure, "The Herald" appears to be attempting to obliterate form, and is broken down into three parts - only really identifiable by the long gaps between them. Each of the sections continues with musical material from the last and develops it, providing a high degree of satisfaction for the analytical, but also sustaining the improvisation, giving the open mind plenty to chew on. My only gripe with this track is that it maintains a somewhat basic 4/4, which makes it a little stodgy.

"Drip Drip" provides a new Flamenco feel, somewhere between ISB and Love. Powerfully enegetic and wild, the music builds up insanely towards a cooler centerpiece. The drama in the structure is natural and starkly rhythmic, with cool-downs and build-ups to drive the most successful orgy! Somehow the vocals remind me of Gabriel in places - but this is all good - very good!

Then it gets even better! "Song to Comus" is a finely crafted ode, with stunning instrumental and vocal arrangements. I won't compare this to anything - it's a unique little gem, worth buying this album for alone.

The follow-up, "The Bite", is a brief respite of sorts - intensely rhythmic with flute playing of the most exquisite beauty.

"Bitten" is a crashing atonal awakening from the respite, a breathtaking exercise in minimalism it seems to cram 30 minutes into a mere 2! Genius!!

Finally, "The Prisoner" is a kind of DAEVID ALLEN plays the blues, although I don't recall ALLEN using the Falmenco style in this fashion until "Now Is The Happiest Time Of Your Life". This moves into a major key, laid back section, somewhat reminiscent of "Grantchester Meadows" by PINK FLOYD, with dreamy vocals. I'll give no more away, except that this album exits on a high, and a literally "insane!" ending to what is quite a trip.

Excellent stuff and highly recommended for anyone with tastes that extend to the esoteric.

Certif1ed | 4/5 |


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