Chrome Hoof — Chrome Black Gold
(Cuneiform Rune 369, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-12-05This will rank as one of the most eclectic releases of the year… heck, maybe even the decade, and a definite bizarre twist from what one would normally expect from Cuneiform. Not being well versed in the Chrome-Hoof-ography (they have a few releases before this one dating back to 2004, regarded highly by those who have heard them), I only have this single reference point, but the eleven tracks presented here by this British ten-piece encompass a collision of numerous different styles and ideas; the first listen was almost like hearing a compilation by half a dozen different artists, although subsequent listens have provided some conceptual threads that tie them all together. The opening instrumental “Enter the Drobe” is a heady mix of aggressive grooves and proggy moves with a dash of heavy guitars at the end, where they jump right into the second tune “Knopheria,” a vocal tune with a strong dance beat that could best be described as a head-on between Thinking Plague, Zappa’s mallet percussion, and Asian pop music with beautiful elastic guitars linking everything together. Then it’s back to another blistering prog piece “When the Lightning Strikes,” with some formidable female vocals, that continually shifts gears throughout its five-minute duration, occasionally adopting growling bass grooves not unlike classic Magma, although all taken, this track sounds like nothing you’ve heard before. Nor do most of the other cuts here, like the heavy electronic-driven intro to “Ultimate Sealed Unit” that quickly turns into one of the coolest rock-fusion tunes on the album, the chamberesque hints of “Andromeda,” or the funky ska-beat propelled “Tortured Craft,” where they bring out the mallets again. In short, with ten players covering all the standard rock instrumentation, plus violin, saxes, bassoon, trumpet, all sorts of keyboards, multiple vocalists and additional guest players, Chrome Hoof can be anything they want to be at any moment, and they take full advantage of that, and everything that’s available to them, jumping from one style to another, while always remaining interesting and challenging. There’s a lot here to keep a listener engaged. Amazing stuff.
Related artist(s): Chrome Hoof
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.