Review Summary: Epic, yet poorly executed album. Not without merit, but it is an exhaustive effort to find that merit. Too grandiose for its own good.
Nick Hudson claims this album addresses his “uncommon passions for vision-incensed dead poets, oblique sonic landscapes and ghosts-as-memories, via a progressive songwriting aesthetic that traces a lineage through William Blake, Rupert Brooke, Heliogabalus, Aleister Crowley, chanson, doom and prog to create a bewitching psychedelic eruption of words and music.” Not a dash of pretention to be found here, then!
First song “My Antique Dead” sounds like it was recorded in a gigantic, empty concert hall. Though the effect is impressive – and the production impeccable on the synths and strings that drift along with the haunting Victorian piano melody – it also highlights this album’s main problem: disconnection from audience. Hudson has made an incredible sounding album, but he’s in a world of his own, too far away for any of us to connect with or understand. The result is atmospheric, but also chaotic and impossible to forge a connection to. “London” opens with a brilliant keyboard hook, ruined by Hudson’s aimless, un-focussed vocal delivery and confusing lyrics. It sounds all together too comfortable, too – borderline spoken word, there is no tension at all.
Hudson applies three main approaches to composition on this album. There are the more tuneful, musical pieces, such as “Rupert Brooke”, the incredibly atmospheric, slightly sinister pieces – quite exotic at times – such as “The Burning Sea”, and there are tracks which attempt to merge the two styles. These efforts at combining the two sounds make up the bulk of the album, and are unfortunately where it falls down – too confused and lacking in focus, they as baffling as the more focussed compositions such as the Simon & Garfunkel-esque “All The Pretty Horses” are worthwhile. At times, it makes you appreciative of the Sunn O))) influenced sludge, because you prize this quality after several minutes of boredom.
Hudson saves the best for almost-last, with “Hierocles”, finally achieving the “progressive songwriting” the album claims to contain, with energetic choral chants sitting perfectly alongside his haunting piano tunes – the previously over-used piano now having renewed impact after its absence on the last two tracks. It’s experimental and unusual, but hardly incredible material, and far from makes up for the deluge of boredom you face until this point. What good there is here is just too much energy to listen to at all. I don’t think I would do so again – it takes a lot of effort and the payout is a minimal return on investment. Shame – an album too grandiose for its own good. A rare thing from a relatively small artist, which is some sort of achievement I suppose.
Oh and it's 70 minutes long. There's that
much filler on show here.