It seems these days that bands are either too reluctant to admit their true influences or are simply not inspired enough to produce music that reflects their own musical preferences. With Purson, a London-based band founded in 2011 and snapped up rather quickly by Lee Dorrian on his Rise Records label, influences are worn quite clearly on sleeves. For those who simply judge a book by a cover, you will notice that the band appear no different to Ghost or Blood Ceremony when looking at the front cover of their debut album, “The circle and the blue door”, but make no mistake, Purson actually sound as if they just time-travelled from the late 60’s, when Psychedelic Rock was in its prime.
The band’s music is very rich and colourful, and although those looking for the heavier tones of Blood Ceremony or Ghost won’t find anything to indulge in here, there is still a lot of variety rooted in each of the album’s eleven tracks, so that anyone could find something to enjoy if they listened hard enough. Multi-instrumentalist Rosalie Cunningham is perhaps the focal point for the band at first glance, but alongside guitarist George Hudson, percussionist and pianist Sam Shove, bassist Barnaby Maddick and drummer Jack Hobbs, Purson come across as more of a complete band than simply a female-fronted act.
The tone and mood changes between each song as swiftly and fluently as possible, so that the listener won’t become disoriented at any point. Whereas the heavier, more guitar-driven likes of ‘Spiderwood farm’, ‘Leaning on a bear’ and ‘Sapphire ward’ keep the momentum and rhythm rolling along beautifully, the more restrained, calmer songs such as ‘The contract’ and ‘Sailor’s wife lament’ give the listener a break and even serve as beautiful lullabies to send even the most restless person to sleep. Perhaps the most prominent instruments throughout the album are the mellotron and the organ, which perform mind-bendingly mesmerizing sounds to accompany Cunningham’s sometimes enchanting voice, the likes of the enigmatic ‘Leaning on a bear’ and surprisingly haunting ‘Mavericks and mystics’ (which wouldn’t seem out of place on the cheesy soundtrack of a horror film) harmonizing the effects that made Psychedelic Rock stand out from the crowd four decades ago. The drum and bass work is particularly rhythmic and never seems to be out of place, in particular proving ‘Spiderwood farm’ to be a groove-laden piece of mystique and menacing power, as well as making the strangely romantic ‘Well spoiled machine’ more and more enchanting as the song progresses.
Whilst Purson’s debut album is only really going to excite those who enjoy the psychedelic sounds of the late 60’s and the early 70’s, it is advisable to give this album a try, for the level of quality and variety found on this album is sure to attract even the most reluctant listener. Purson has thus succeeded in making a promising debut album which both resembles a past era and stands out from the crowd with a strong level of variety.