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Hatfield And The North - The Rotters' Club CD (album) cover


Hatfield And The North


Canterbury Scene

4.21 | 579 ratings

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4 stars Alongside National Health sit Hatfield & The North, one of the Canterbury 'super-groups' whose fluid membership policy oversaw contributions from members past-and-present of the likes of Gong, Caravan, Camel, Egg, Khan and Matching Mole during their sadly-rather-brief two-album studio career. With a name taken from a Bedfordshire motorway sign, 'Hatfield & The North' were indeed a strange and complex beast, injecting the base jazz-influenced Canterbury sound with even more surreal humour and lyrical wordplay than usual. The music too is both finely-crafted and highly-intricate, the jazz motifs, keyboard drones and organ runs also peppered with occasional classical exotica in the sound of bassoons, oboes, cellos and clarinets and with Richard Sinclair's foppish vocals adding that all-too quintessential English cherry to the group's rich sonic cake. Whilst the album's overall tone-and-touch is somewhat lighter than the moody atmospherics found on their debut, 'The Rotter's Club' is still a dense musical experience, featuring what can be best described as a kind of peculiar jazz-flecked, classically-informed sound, the kind that ought to be found at the very far end of the rock spectrum. It's also interesting to note that 'The Rotter's Club' seems less an album and much more a single, epic song, such is the thematic link between most of the individual pieces, many of which segue directly into one another without pause. As a result, 'The Rotter's Club' really needs to be listened to from beginning-to-end to truly absorb, with the practice of picking out or skipping over various tracks substantially lessening the album's overall impact. The centre-piece, the 20-minute 'Mumps', does prove an exception, yet even this piece reflects the album's make-up, itself taking in a dense series of interlocking sections. 'The Rotter's Club' then, just like its predecessor, may prove a touch listen for some; this is difficult-yet-jovial music, with a light satirical touch but also filled with complex musical movements. Fans of the Canterbury scene should, of course, lap this up; but those who have not yet sampled the delights of this particular sub-genre have been warned; and this is not the place to start. At times delightful, at others confusing and strange, this second-and-last release from Hatfield & The North is, like the group's debut, a genuine pot-pourri of musical eccentricity. It might not always make sense - both musically-and-lyrically - yet happily, both come recommended. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
stefro | 4/5 |


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