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

2018-02-18
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

2018-02-15
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

2018-02-14
Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

2018-01-30
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dave Weckl Band - The Rhythm of the Soul – Back when I was in college, Weckl was God to every star-struck drummer who ever picked up a pair of sticks. His years behind the kit in both of Chick Corea's bands allowed him ample opportunity to...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues