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

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Lucia Micarelli - Music from a Farther Room – So, I've got this record to review. Drop-dead gorgeous raven-haired violin goddess, an obviously classically trained violinist with that Trans-Siberian Orchestra rock twist on your grandparents'...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues