Pure Reason Revolution – The Dark Third: Album Review

Pure Reason Revolution heads back to 2006 and follows this year’s excellent Eupnea (our review here) by returning to their first album for a definitive edition.

Release Date: 16th October 2020

Label: Sony Music / InsideOut Music

Format: DL / 2CD digipak / gatefold 2LP + 2CD

Let’s face it. The main attraction in the return of Pure Reason Revolution and of Eupnea was also in the return to the sound and songs of their early incarnation. The period when they excited the progressive crowd and their relatives in space rock/post-rock/psychedelia and so on. That was before they got grabbed by the majors and shunted into a frankly less desirable direction.

On discovering PRR, I always found The Dark Third releases totally compelling although a bit confusing. Aside from the album, I have an EP called Cautionary Tales For The Brave with some non-album tracks, plus The Intention Craft EP where the title track is on the Cautionary EP but not the album. Thankfully, we’re now party to the definitive version and can wallow in the glory of PRR circa fifteen years ago.

Or are we? I’ve still got Sound Of Free that’s not on the new version although have gained Golden Clothes and Borgens Vor. Oh and the frenzied Nimos & Tambos is a new one on me. I’m also confused by the similarities in the different artwork. It doesn’t take much. A fog comes down again on a brief glimpse of clarity and I have a headache. Perhaps best to simply allow the music to simply wash over me in time-honoured fashion which should do the trick (with a couple of Nurofen).

So it’s a big slab of gratitude to Chloë Alper and Jon Courtney for having given us the chance again to re-marvel at their youthful magnificence. The Dark Third should be pretty essential listening on any lists of progressive music. Maybe when Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson get round to 2006 on The Album Years podcast, they may even say that this album is ‘canon’ – one that everyone has and has had so much attention paid to it that they want to dig deeper. On the other hand, they may want to flag it up and pay suitable tribute to Jon and Chloë as the bright young ambassadors and how their flame gave a brief glimmer of what could be before they headed back under the radar for various reasons.

Suffice to say that the opening four tracks as a whole have been recognised as an outstanding progression of 25 minutes of music. What became their trademark vocals where both voices do a superb job of complementing one another – not what you’d call classic, but both in tune with the sounds and remotely ethereal.

The Intention Craft typifies the heavier moments that take off and the occasional otherworldly spacey rock passages. You can revisit Asleep Under Eiderdown (which may or may not be a working title that stuck) for a dreamy progressive lullaby. Big on the drama too; The Twyncyn is their Kashmir. You could even swear it was Bonham laying down that familiar march and hi-hat tapping. And then they switch to Metallica as the track evolves into Trembling Willows.

The fuzzed sounds and chanted vocal of In Aurelia that open the second disc remain thrilling to hear. Perfect progressive/alt-rock disco grooves and while the lengthy (ie, proggy) signature of The Bright Ambassadors Of Morning may be the one they invariably get lumbered with, it does present a snapshot of all the bases that PRR cover…As does Borgens Vor if you can only spare four minutes.

Their “big statement to the world” may still be their defining moment. Quite apt that if it were released today, I’m sure the fuss would remain the same.

And finally this from Jon Courtney: “Tomorrow, at 3pm CET you can watch Chloe & I reminiscing about the Dark Third. Can you guess which prog superstar almost featured on “Golden Clothes”? We unveil this in the chat! Jon x”

Listen to Aeropause here:

Pure Reason Revolution online: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp

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