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Tiger Moth Tales - Cocoon CD (album) cover

COCOON

Tiger Moth Tales

Neo-Prog


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Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin... This is a cautionary tale, and it concerns a man, a gifted man, living on an island made out of musical instruments...."

That could be the beginning of an album review for Tiger Moth Tales' album Cocoon, crafter by multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones. To be honest, it is the beginning of such a review now. As I write this review, I have heard the album quite a few times, but during the final listen before writing this, the hairs on my arms still stood upright during the closing track. That must mean something, so let's have a look at what Cocoon is, and what it has to offer...

As said, this is an album by the English multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones. A blind musician at that, one who has to rely fully on his ears, and what that means clearly shows on this album, on which he sings, and plays keyboards, talkbox, guitar, saxophone, whistles, sarod, zither, melodica, bells and percussion. The drums are programmed and Mark Wardle plays flugelhorn, but everything else is done by this one man, who als wrote all music and lyrics. I mentioned before that one man bands are quite common these days (in my review for Steam Theory), and here's another one that proves that this can actually work well when focus is on releasing an album.

So... Cocoon, I reckon the best way to describe this album is by calling it a trip into the world of Peter Jones, fan of Steve Hackett, Genesis, Big Big Train, Frost*, Haken and many more. A fan of the kind that writes and plays his own music almost in tribute to his favourites - his own Four Seasons if you will (short tracks named after the seasons interleave the songs on this album).

That shows in many ways on this very versatile album, that echoes both the sounds of the 70s and modern rock. The opening Overture is not so much an overture of the music on the album, as an overture of the instruments the man can play and who his inspirations are. There is a dark keyboard melody in there, followed by a saxophone solo and then wild keyboard work that (on slightly less modern instruments) might not have been out of place in the heyday of Yes and ELP.

The follow up The Isle of Witches, on which the intro to this review is based, starts with a narrative and is the followed by dark music - telling the tale of a war between witches and wizards over an island. A song that has organ pieces, vocal effects, and even a metallic mid section (somehow reminded me of something on the very first Ayreon album). A track that requires listening - not suited as background music nor as a lullaby - unless you want to provoke nightmares.

Tigers in the Butter is a 14 minute track that has every aspect of a 1970s epic in it - it consists of different musical movements, one rocky another based on a piano melody and yet another having an eastern feel to it. The lyrics are slightly absurd, but at the same time thought provoking (we live our live in fantasy), and sung in a style that has aspects of what Peter Gabriel and John Wetton did in their younger years. Another listener, that is followed by a great instrumental, The First Lament. Great for those who love guitar, and especially guitar in (at least to my ears) the style of Gary Moore's Parisienne Walkways or The Messiah Will Come Again. Peter has a knack for keyboards, but the guitar is a very close second, if not equal. The additional touch of the flute in the beginning makes it into a Tiger Moth Tale yet again.

And then... the fun really kicks in with The Merry Vicar, a happy track with folk and musical influences in the versus, but with a fitting, more rock oriented keyboard and piano mid section. The lyrics about a vicar using music and absurdism to spread the word of God are brought in an equally absurd way as the vicar would himself. To me, this clearly gets the message across that it's only too human to take everything so serious.

With the vicar gone, A visit to Chigwick is our next stop, and it's all about childhood memories. Chigwick doesn't exist - except in the singer's head, as he sings (even though the name resembles that of Chiswick in London ). In reality, the town is based on English children's TV shows Trumpton, Camberwick Green and Chigley - the name being a combination of the latter two [Added this explanation after Peter explained it]. The song starts out folky. It even reminds me briefly of Dirty Old Town, if it weren't a folk traditional song but a modern composition. The keyboard, guitar and bass work on this track are brilliant, and the build up from folk to full instrumental rock is absolutely wonderful (and yes, there is a melodica on this one..., and it fits too). It's almost a pity it only lasts for just under 9 minutes. Almost, not quite though, because there is that one closing track remaining that made the hair on my arms stand up, some 800 words ago, remember? That track is called Don't let go, Feels alright. If we talk about emotion and build up in a song, this one has it all. Starting with a musical box, it quickly moves to a piano piece on which Peter sings in a wonderful emotional voice, accompanied by strings where needed. Later on drums and more layered, choral vocals are added, but only after two superb instrumental sections, with saxophone, guitar and keyboard solos that make you wonder whether this is really a single man playing...

Looking at Peter Jones' bio on his web site, he is no stranger to the music business - having been appeared on a BBC program at age 8, and being a performing artist in the duo 2 to Go (playing clubs and corporate events). However, what he does on this album is in a completely different league, and it is a shame this album is drowning in the attention paid to the new works of old names. Tiger Moth Tales should be, has to become, a known name at some point, but for the time being this album has every aspect in place of a cult classic.

Tiger Moth Tales and Peter Jones, two names to keep in mind.

Report this review (#1403232)
Posted Friday, April 24, 2015 | Review Permalink
lop
5 stars FIRST review guys.

Tiger Moth Tales has released 2 albums within the last 8 months, and both are VERY good. The tastes of Peter Jones are top notch, and all songs and arrangements are in amazing form. Not only is our composer a multi-instrumentalist, he is also an amazing vocalist. The amount of skill, influence, and culture in this music is too broad to describe; one owes it to oneself to investigate TIGER MOTH TALES.

This music will appeal to classic and neo prog fans alike. Highly Recommended; this art is overflowing with passion, joy, good vibes, and love. One of the best albums I've heard in years.

Report this review (#1440527)
Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mind blown! Peter Jones and his Tiger Moth Tales just did that. I usually say, I remember where I was, when I first heard 3 albums in my life. It has now become 4! Beatles White album - Messed with my very young mind - A week later I knew it was brilliant Dark Side of the Moon (Floyd) - I knew straight away - It is brilliant The Light (Spock's Beard) - I knew prog was back - Brilliant! Cocoon - Knew within minutes this is brilliant!

A bit simplistic the way I wrote that? For good reason. Don't read this, just listen to the damn thing!

There are too many amazing musicians, singers, bands around now to list. One thing I was certain of. Nothing will ever really sound "Progressive" to me again. It seemed to me, to be a silly word now. I was wrong!

Cocoon IS progressive. Peter Jones has a voice that goes from Peter Gabriel, to Steve Hackett to Winston Churchill. (I mean it!) He can play guitar with the feel and virtuosity of Joe Satriani and countless others I might add. He plays piano or any keyboard like Tony Banks, when he chooses to do that. Saxophone that would fit perfectly in a solo about money. I know he could score a Hollywood movie then switch to insane heavy prog, a moment later.

This is the finest album of 2014 and in my opinion, one of the finest ever made in history and this seems to be just the start. NOTE: If you always hoped to hear a follow up to Foxtrot/Selling England by the Pound, this could be it. Stunned!

Report this review (#1441350)
Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 | Review Permalink
FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Peter Jones is one of the new superstars of modern progressive rock. Though he'd been writing and performing pop music for a decade, he emerged with a wallop on the prog scene with his 2014 album Tiger Moth Tales "Cocoon". This was rapidly followed up with 2015's "Story Tellers - Part One" and a new band project, Red Bazar, and an album called "Tales from the Bookcase" in 2016. To add to the momentum, Peter Jones sings and plays saxophone and clarinet on the recent release by the Colin Tench Project and joined Camel earlier this year and set off straight away for the Japan tour.

Peter Jones is a remarkable talent. He can write songs and sing like he should be with Genesis. He can play piano and guitar like he could belong to any prog band with an established name for itself. His music covers Genesis-inspired songs, blazing metal guitar, soothing piano and acoustic guitar, lively and bouncy prog rock. On his first prog release, Peter includes four seasonal tracks that include duck quacks, fireworks, and Christmas bells and as well, the album begins and ends like a cassette tape being played. In between is a remarkable collection of music.

Listen to the tale of the three witches who inhabit an island in the Arctic Sea and who battle the wizards who are audacious and bold enough to think they can wrestle the island away from the "three indomitable females". The first two minutes showcase Peter's wonderful story-telling voice, and then the music takes us on a 9-minute journey with some unpredictable twists and turns. "Tigers in the Butter" begins with an eastern flavour with sitar before turning into a mad dream and then some beautiful modern guitar prog. One would be excused for thinking that some new upstart band had re-invented classic Genesis, and then even more so on the sublime "A Visit to Chigwick". "The Merry Vicar" is a rollicking humorous song with heavy prog and prog metal tendencies but nothing to split your eardrums. "First Lament" includes some lonely woodwind an melodic guitar and piano.

There is such a feast of sounds for the ears here and it's almost mind-boggling to think that this music, which sounds as though it was composed by a band of talented musicians and songwriters, was done entirely by one man. For Peter Jones is credited as "all instruments". Stunning work!

As for me, I've got Red Bazar on order and I will soon try to get the other Tiger Moth Tales album ordered as well. Three cheers for the merry vic, er, no. For Peter Jones!

Report this review (#1632928)
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Here is a delightful throwback recording from multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones. It is right in my personal prog wheelhouse, full of melody and intricate storytelling. I liken it to early Phil Collins led Genesis (Trick of the Tail, Wind and Wuthering). Melodic progressive music with a sensible pop edge.

The instrumentation is neither sparse nor overloaded. The production quality is impeccable. Nothing seems to get lost in the mix.

The compositions are lighthearted and engaging, but not overly complex. It is easy to listen to and hard to put down.

My one complaint with the album is the inclusion of four sonic "vignettes" each representing a season of the year. I like the idea in theory, but on the record they come across as too short and undeveloped to contribute to the whole. "Winter" is the strongest of the four, but I think it would have been better if they had been dropped from the release altogether.

So now comes the knotty question. 4 or 5 stars? Masterpiece?

Not quite. But with this release Peter is knocking at the door of a masterpiece. I think he has it within him.

Final score: 4.4 stars. Unfortunately rounded down to 4. Sad, because this recording deserves to be on the list of all-time best prog albums. Somewhere around 100-150 in my opinion.

Enjoy!

Report this review (#1678022)
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2017 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones delivers a technically impressive debut for his Tiger Moth Tales project here. The name of the project is a little tip of the hat to Steve Hackett, and indeed musically speaking the style is reminiscent of Steve's early solo albums - the closest I'd say is probably Please Don't Touch, with its theatricality and whimsical weaving of atmospheric fairy tales (the best of which is probably The Isle of Witches).

It's all quite impressively accomplished, though at the same time Cocoon makes me feel like the best is yet to hatch; it's very tasteful, but I can't help but feel like there's a bit of fat and filler here and there, with cheesier, poppier moments filling out the running time and jarring me out of my enjoyment of the album. An interesting oddity, but I do wonder whether Peter Jones won't be better served in a band context where his ideas can be challenged and honed to allow the cream to rise to the top.

Report this review (#1689740)
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2017 | Review Permalink

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