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Sanguine Hum - Now We Have Light CD (album) cover


Sanguine Hum


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5 stars For their third effort, Sanguine Hum give us a double disc concept album that is an amalgamation of all their previous incarnations, and much much more. It contains the wit and whimsy of Antique Seeking Nuns; the ambiance and atmosphere of Nunbient, the succinct song-craft of The Joff Winks Band; and the depth and complexity of Sanguine Hum.

They build from a humorous idea: that buttering the backs of cats could be a source of power! (Because we all know that cats always land on their feet, and buttered toast always lands butter side down.) But lurking beneath the silly exterior is a truly poignant study of the human condition.

The music is so listenable that you might not even notice how incredibly rich, nuanced, and complex it is. I thought their last album was great, but this one is amazing. If you have not heard this band before, you need to. If you have, get this record!

Report this review (#1376761)
Posted Monday, March 2, 2015 | Review Permalink

First I'd just like to say 'thank you' to everyone who has reviewed albums here on PA and led me to discover great music! As a matter of fact, I swear by the PA reviews, especially when I discover another cd that I have to have! Damn y'all! Please pardon my French! And to you French, please pardon my English!

In regards to this recording, I enjoy it immensely! I didn't 'get' it on the 1st spin, but after a couple I did 'get' it! Right now it holds the coveted, 'I can't take it out of my van's cd player' award! The word that I feel describes this album most appropriately is intricate. (and whether you might have noticed or not, that sentence did not end in an exclamation point!) (sorry). Even on the more aggressive moments of this album, intricacy is still whispered to me. Although aggressiveness is in the minority here-it's a more finessed, middle-of-the-road type of recorded music, if you will. In it's own way, it's very beautiful to me without being overtly mellow. Although I do like many a mellow cd which I discovered on PA also. Bastards. What, do you think I'm made of money or something?!

I am torn between giving this outstanding recording of luscious music 4 or 5 stars. I love it, but I can't quite bump it up to 5 stars. It's at least 4.5 though! So I'll give it a solid, highly recommended 4 stars! Thanks for reading, take care and enjoy Gods gift of music!

PS-Please be assured that my cursing was very much meant to be comical and I do not direct that to anyone at all on PA! (one last exclamation point!)

Report this review (#1468372)
Posted Monday, September 21, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars This quartet still is hard to pigeonhole when trying to pin down a distinct music style respectively genre. Their predecessor 'Weight Of The World' from 2013 widely opened the door to the progressive new artrock field. 'Now We Have Light' yet comes as another progression - a concept outfit, comprised of material which has matured within the last ten years at least. Consequently the stylistical boundaries are more comprehensive then ever, obviously resulting from the member's shifting preferences and influences over the course of time.

Matt Baber (keybords), Joff Winks (guitar/vocals), Brad Waissman (bass) and drummer Andrew Booker are offering more than 80 thrilling minutes here, this separated on two discs featuring 15 tracks in total. Additionally a DVD is part of the box set released on Esoteric/Antenna, which supplies the obligatory making of and some outtakes. For me only Cat Factory had a reputation already at the very start, as this one has been part of several live sets before. A short instrumental which deserves a special praise from me while delivering a nice mellotron disposition and a terrific bass line.

There are some excerpts which definitely will have a place on my playlists for a long time - though preferably I recommend to examine the particular discs in one go. There's a really charming start given with the Desolation Song contribution. Chat Show is excellently pointing to their canterbury roots when they once were having eggs and baked beans for breakfast under the moniker ANTIQUE SEEKING NUNS. And then just take the time for attempting the impossible when Spanning The Eternal Blyss - it's worth it, not only because there are also intense crimsonesque and zappaesque moments to detect.

Where Shit! is coming from the electronic playground Out Of Mind provides a real masterpiece, Chat Show shows another jewel I can't get enough of. Bass and synthesizer are excellently complementing on Settle Down. Featuring Jim Hart on vibraphone regarding two songs, the album most heard in recent months. For me a wonderful experience again, a definitive cross section of all the stuff they have done before, and this without simply recompiling. Well, very probably it's inspiring to have some bubble trouble besides some double bubble trouble, you see? Thank you for that, fellas!

Report this review (#1499850)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Only days before ordering this album, I was thinking about the four humours that were named after bodily fluids. What were they now? Sanguine from blood. Phlegmatic from phlegm. And what else? Hydrophilic from water and pissed off from urine? No, that's not right. But as I thought, I recalled that there was a band called Sanguine Hum whose album review I had read a while back on PA. A few days later, I sat before the computer with Amazon UK open, seeing what Brexit had done for UK CD prices, and as I selected albums to possibly order, "Customers who bought this also bought" came up with Sanguine Hum. There was a new release, but the Cat Factory cover appealed to me more and the album got ordered.

"Now We Have Light. Part One of the Buttered Cat Conspiracy. (This text reserves the right to randomly mix past, present and future tenses!)" This album is a concept narrative, and the booklet that comes with the CD does not include lyrics to the songs but instead explains what is happening as each track plays out. This is a future, post- apocalyptic world where a circle of billionaires has created a circle around the wealthy and use windmills to blow away smog. People have what are known as Drastic Attics where stuff is stored because a decree states that nothing can ever be thrown away. The explanation in the booklet has a typical English bent toward humour and the story is told with understatement, irony, and of course a degree of sarcasm. Our protagonist, Don, discovers the perpetual energy theory is proven when a cat with butter on its back is tested to see which side will land on the floor and instead ends up suspended in the air and rotating. Don has by chance also discovered a blue print for such a device. What luck!

Well, the story goes on and the plot thickens as Don's blueprint is stolen and the government orders all felines to be rounded up. But let's look at the music.

What we have here is a very English approach to modern progressive rock, maybe. Much of the music is driven by keyboards: synthesizers and organ mostly. Guitar plays an important part, featured in acoustic, clean electric, and a little bit edgy distorted guitar as well. Bass and drums play their parts gracefully sidestepping mainstream demands for banality. It's really difficult for me to pin down an suitable comparison. I am reminded of Pure Reason Revolution but also Radio Head in a spot or two, here and there some Happy the Man lite, and well, who else? The band has a sense for laid back jazz in a more upbeat musical atmosphere than Gazpacho would deliver. And surely there are moments that revive some classic mid to late seventies prog/pop. The vocals are light and marked with very clear English enunciation. There are songs and there are instrumentals and the two approaches are coordinated and sequenced so that one never outstays the other significantly.

Though the first two tracks, "Desolation Song" and "Drastic Attic" give a good feel for the whole album, the more angular and rapidly descending electric guitar arpeggios of "Theft" or the grooving bass of "Cat Factory" or the mechanical "Cog" instrumental in the six-part "Spanning the Eternal Abyss" will stand apart without coming across as outside of the scope of the album's sound and atmosphere. The acoustic guitar instrumental "On Another Beach" (part four of "Spanning the Eternal Abyss") is also lovely.

Sanguine Hum seem to like to introduce a musical theme and then build on it, then drop it momentarily as they introduce a related but different theme, and then reprise the original and add more colour to it. Comparing this album to another planet, I'd say it has a variety of landscapes that includes mountains without many crags, plains with rolling hills, patches of rock gardens, wildflowers, and groves of trees, and a climate that is at times foggy or weird but mostly fairly pleasant and easy to enjoy.

Though few tracks as yet stand out for me, the overall impression I have is that this is a double album that can be easily enjoyed but is also easy to hear while thoughts are set free to wander outside of the music. Well composed and executed. Some ear-catching moments. Intentionally avoids being too punchy or complex.

Our story, by the way, ends up leaving us with a promised sequel. To be continued in "Now We Have Power".

Report this review (#1612111)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2016 | Review Permalink

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