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Captain of the Lost Waves — Hidden Gems Chapter 3 - Mysterium Tremendum
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-10-22

Hidden Gems Chapter 3 - Mysterium Tremendum Cover art

Occasionally something comes in for review that’s so unusual and outstanding that it’s nearly impossible to categorize or identify where its influences lie, and we will be dealing with one of those in this review, the fourth album by the Captain of the Lost Waves. This is the third album in the Hidden Gems trilogy, with the appropriate subtitle Mysterium Tremendum, a surprising mash-up of folk, prog, acoustic and world music, but even that still doesn’t come close to describing what’s here. The Captain is a troubadour, a storyteller and so it’s said, a free thinking renegade who writes songs that are at once unusual and dreamy, sometimes powerful and rocking, at other times softer, intuitive and spirited, rife with invention. It is said that the captain, in addition to being a eccentric songwriter and a gifted singer, is a master accordionist, and plays a number of unusual stringed instruments like oud, bouzouki, Lauto, and much more, and it’s their use that contributes to the world music flavor on many of the songs herein. He is backed by several other musicians playing the standard stuff like bass, drums, guitars, additional vocals and whatnot, but like the captain himself, their true identities remain a mystery. The program begins with “Intro / Pretending to Be a Person,” an ambient intro with strange voices singing in some unknown language that gives way to the gentle folk sound of “Pretending..” that introduces the Captain’s unmistakable vocals. The next tune, “A Million Lightbulbs,” picks up the pace some with a strong catchy melody, a trend that continues with “Clarabelle,” with its mysterious and dark sounding pulses that provide a bed for the powerful vocals and mellotron, but it’s “Getaway Drivers in a Stolen Car” that starts out with a melody on oud before the singing begins, an eight-minute piece that navigates through numerous sections returning to the refrain that will get stuck in the listener’s mind for days, before settling down to the more gentle “Quieter” for a change in pace. Other standouts include “Noise and Amusements,” “Plastic Flowers for Stone Hearts,” “Paper Aeroplanes” and the mildly psychedelic “Animals on an Island.” Interestingly the title track comes at the end, the first part of a thirteen minute bloc that contains at least three additional hidden tracks, but that final track doesn’t appear to be available if one downloads the album from Bandcamp, perhaps it’s only available on the CD. Regardless, this is a brilliant album that deserves to be heard by all.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Captain of the Lost Waves (Murray Grainger)

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