Exposé Online banner

Cathedral & Rum — Surreal Typewriter
((Not on label) no#, 2007, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01

Surreal Typewriter Cover art

Chris Hartford and his cohorts have returned for their third outing, and in a nutshell if you like what was done before you’ll probably enjoy this as well. C&R albums have always been somewhat schizophrenic affairs in my opinion. Southern California-based Hartford is a singer songwriter in the Dylan / Cohen mold and it’s easy to see that his country-tinged vocal and acoustic guitar playing are the nucleus of the recordings. But this is just the starting point of the arrangements that are then given a variety of costumes and overcoats courtesy of a host of musicians. This includes sax, trumpet, violin, DJ scratching, and female harmony vocals, besides a basic bass and drums accompaniment. In some cases the mix of instrumental ornamentation works, as with the songs “One More Lullaby” and “Caroline,” where subtle use of violin and electric guitar add an airy elegance that contrasts with edge-y sensuality. Even the beat poet / Tom Waits-infused “Pitch Black Light” conjures up logic to the improvised sax and trumpet backdrop. However, on more than one occasion I found the additional musicians to be a distraction. Hartford is blessed with a gift for songwriting and a great voice and in my opinion many songs would be better served without all the window dressing. That said, viewed through the prism of mid 60s psych, Tom Waits, and modern alt-psych this album has substance and an original sonic flair. Future offerings (there’s already new material in the works, supposedly) will certainly be worth a listen.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): Cathedral & Rum, Chris Hartford

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ain Soph - Hat and Field – Ain Soph are a post-Canterbury Japanese quartet who have certainly paid their dues, and whose Hat and Field album marks their return to the progressive/jazz scene from a six year hiatus since their...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues