Kaprekar’s Constant – Depth Of Field: Album Review

Release Date: 20th September 2019

Label: Talking Elephant Records

Formats: CD / DL / DSP / LP (pre order)

Kaprekar’s first album, Fate Outsmarts Desire, proved quite an impressive debut. Certainly enough to warrant making a special effort to catch them playing at the 2017 Cropredy Fringe and grab the chance to view Dave Jackson with two saxophones in his mouth at the same time. The record reminded me (and others) very much of the Big Big Train and Tigermoth Tales version of progressive rock. One that could have been an offspring of Genesis circa 1976 where you could marvel at the stories they can tell in the way they weaved in and out of a musical kaleidoscope where Jackson added his distinctive sounds to a very ‘English’ sounding record.

Depth Of Field finds them not only boasting of an ex-member of Van Der Graaf Generator in their midst but also features contributions from former Caravan drummer Mark Walker and old Jethro Tull himself, Ian Anderson. Other than that those names they are very much a band who don’t rely on flashy showmanship. Fans of that first record will gladly accept more of the same and Depth Of Field finds the band applying the ‘if it ain’t broken why fix it?’ notion. Once again, without going into masses of detailed analysis, the lyrical inspiration comes from real life; events, times and places in history that will have you scurrying around the internet to delve deeper.

Musically, there’s a blend of the concise and the expansive. The prog rock fans eyes will light up at the sight of the 23:41 Of White Star’s Sunrise which is the album’s big hitter. Ebbing and flowing like one of the Morse/Portnoy…etc Transatlantic epics, it follows the stories of three of the White Star Liners. As towering and grand as the vessels themselves, it uplifts with swells of strings and hits a peak around ten minutes before a simple acoustic sees the course change. Having Anderson on board, you may well be drawn into thoughts of Tull’s long-form pieces, especially with the influx of some more bright folky elements.

 It rivals the two parts of Rosherville that are split into a bite-size, but still a mouthful, two parts. An ode to the 19th Century pleasure gardens in a disused chalk pit in Gravesend that fell to ruin with the coming of the railways allowing easier access to other destinations, it celebrates olde-worlde Englishness. “A place to spend a happy day” and the effects of the combination of hearing the different vocalists in a sedate and idyllic procession conveys the sense of the gardens as “a healing place.” Church bells peal (or do they toll, signalling the death knell?) flutes dance, Jackson’s sax offers a goosey honking and there’s a childlike wonder in the melody. It’s bright and breezy whereas the second part reflects on the decline of Rosherville and how “it comes to nought if they don’t come.” A spoken-word piece from Ian Anderson and a sad piano refrain wraps up the piece in a suitably sombre fashion.

The ten minute Ghost Planes combines straightforward and brassy rock with piano-led balladry based around the Second World War and the home front and the almost expected voiceover. It’s a technique that’s been well used to great success by Public Service Broadcasting (whose The War Room took a similar topic) and is at its most successful in this piece. Taking recorded memories of children and an ARP warden (all relatives of KC’s Mike Wesrtgaard), they add a personal relevance and poignancy to a lively piece and while the epics may grab the attention, KC are no strangers to the shorter pieces where the less complex arrangements are more  restrained and offer the likes of the  romantic interlude of The Nightwatchman. The gentle lilt of the acoustic guitar on the title track which isn’t much more than a coda “the group just slipped away” in the same way that the KC collective is very undemonstrative and reserved.

The later wraps up a splendid piece of work and a warm and welcome return for a band whose first album suggested much potential and whose second album lives up to the promise.

Watch the album trailer:

Kaprekar’s Constant online:

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