A fully realised conceptual record exploring the early stages of loss from Acolyte.
Release date: 14th May 2021
Label: Wild Thing Records
Format: CD / DL / Vinyl
Already getting the thumbs up in our book by retaining the single word song titles, there seems to be a satisfying feel about that particular philosophy. A grand opening overture too in Prelude. An unbeatable little trick. One minute and eleven seconds in and we’re onside with Acolyte and in for the duration. Especially when we launch into the title track and the first of an album’s worth of alternately melodic and lulling, passionate and intense, but never less than committed, vocals of Morgan-Leigh Brown.
To backtrack briefly, the nine tracks make up a dark and inescapably emotional concept that in their own words is “told with pain, aggression, subtlety, melody, angst, torture, torment and tension…” Indeed, an hour’s worth of exploration of the early stages of loss come presented as diary-style entries; some detailed and intimate, others providing a brief snapshot. Again, Brown talks of “actions, feelings & emotions that are commonly experienced when trying to ground one’s self all while carrying the early weight of trauma. Though lyrically the songs relate to me personally, I have tried to expand on those ideas & simplify my thoughts in order to make the songs & topics feel more broadly familiar to the listener.” I think that’s what some might call cathartic and therapeutic in the act of letting go and sharing.
You can understand the “I loved it all!” confession from Brown as her very real and raw vocal dominates the album. That’s not to say it’s a one-woman show. Backed by a musical quartet that builds the soundtrack, the nine minutes of the title track showcases and builds the drama via daring riffing and an atmospheric interlude that emphasise the theatricality of the whole performance and delivery. Add an impressively fluent and fleet-fingered solo in the chunky Resentment and the opening fifteen minutes has flown.
Alternating the shorter sharper shots and little vignettes (a la Resilience and Solitude – the latter no more than ambient sounds that evolve into a similar stark but beautifully played Recovery) come some more ambitious extended arrangements. Having whetted the appetite with the title track, the first ten minuter being the slow Kashmir styled march of Clarity where the discipline to resist heading off into a heavier or more rapid tempo is admirable and restricted to some mid-song power chording. Reminds me of the incredible force whipped up by Anathema at their finest. Favourite track so far? Could be this one…exactly where the brooding and haunting tag fits.
By contrast, Idiosyncracy’s eleven minutes heads off in a Byzantine riff-fest with the swirl of mystical textures with a mid-song diversion into ethnic rhythms and chants that collide with a very modern gymnastic guitar and synth extravaganza. Totally hypnotic and addictive, topped with the power of Acceptance and some semblance of light at the end of the tunnel.
The thought that anyone who has experienced the loss of something or someone they love, or even a part of themselves will find refuge & a sense of release and uplift from this musical adventure. This is for you. Congratulations to Messers Valentine, Cameron, Grondman, Van Pelt and Brown. An album that comes from a cold and lonely place but results in the thrill of a powerful and potent experience.
Here’s the official video for the title track: