Calum Mason – Panopticon: Album Review

Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Calum Mason takes a break from his current musical connections to release a fascinating groundbreaking album Panopticon.

Release Date: 4th March 2022

Label: Self-released

Format:   streaming platforms 

With the fluctuating tones of the opening track All Court & Flex, Calum Mason sets his stall out on this exciting opener.  Deep resonant vocals thrust with stunning power after a gentle classical piano opening and blend with similarly gentle acoustic guitar phases. Almost like Eddie Vedder meets early Tull.

Stand up Calum as your next track O Sister announces your unique sound mixing folky fiddle, melancholy vocals and a full rocky emphasis in your efforts to create a new sound that’s instantly recognisable in the future – and it probably will be. Elbow In The Room builds from deep guitar licks and develops into classical strings copying the riff. Vocal acrobatics display Calum’s clever vocal and composing versatility. 

Calum’s music is as unique as it is eclectic, which comes through strongly on instrumental Brain Machine. Disposable Thumbs is a more traditional folky-style song leaving no question as to his roots. Simply accompanied by intricate fingerstyle guitar. Brobdingnagian Phantom Slayer sounds like a prog title and indeed flitters from Celtic tones to dynamic prog and tells a story of overcoming imaginary obstacles. As imaginary is the battle to pin down Calum to a specific genre. Well, don’t! ! It’s thrilling to unearth where he is going next.

The next track The Devils In The Delphic is similarly complex in construction with a wonderful concoction of surprises. Beautiful lilting soaring strings, droning vocals are the main feature of A Favour after its haunting choral opening.  The instrumental, as hinted in the title, 50N&40W has a seafaring quality to it.

Folk music has always had a thought-provoking element as well as storytelling and there is a wealth of both on Calum’s first solo effort to broaden the musical spectrum of the folk genre as many new bands are amazingly doing currently. 

In an article in The Scotsman, he explained: “The overriding theme of the album focuses on philosophical ideas. Group-think and tribalism are big themes explored throughout the album, alongside musings on free will and even euthanasia.” The instrumentation and musical arrangements  dovetail and enhance his lyrical thoughts to express this rather than merely complementing or accompanying his verbal ideas. “It’s an album of questions and considerations, as opposed to any hard and fast answers or convictions,” he says.

He closes with The Polar Bear; another beguiling piece in which he announces he will “go another way”. Indeed musically he has given us another path on which to take the folk genre. Put your boots on and let’s go with him and pay close attention to Calum’s compelling music.

Here’s All Court & Flex:

Calum Mason online: Facebook / Instagram / Soundcloud / Bandcamp

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