However — Sudden Dusk
(Kinesis KDCD 1011, 1981/1994, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-05-01
The reissue of However's classic Canterbury inspired first album is one this writer has been anticipating for many years. The band at this point was a four-piece, featuring Peter Prince (vocals, bass, 12 string, keys), Bill Kotapish (guitars and some bass), Joe Prince (drums), and Bobby Read (saxes, flute, clarinet, marimba, keys), plus guest musicians on vibes, violin, cello, marimba, recorder and bassoon. However's sound, at least at this point, bears strong influences from the Henry Cow camp, yet they have taken that type of sound and expanded it to a higher melodic level, full of atmospherics and powerful dynamic flux, so, in that respect one may also be reminded of Happy the Man. Also they share (early) Happy the Man's penchant for musical humor, operating on many levels at once.
The album opens with a noisy one: "It's Good Fun" is a romp through bold musical territory, playing with unexpected changes and dissonance; it is here where the Cow influence is most evident. With "Hardt," an acoustic guitar based track, things start getting even more interesting. It leads directly into "In the Aisles," an adventurous vocal track with strong support from a powerful bottom end, acoustic and electric guitars, violin, and mallets. "Louise Sitting in a Chair" is an overtly melodic piece, gentle and soothing, with the main theme carried by soprano sax and piano. This leads up to what I consider the album's standout track: "Beese." Seven solid minutes of alternating waves of musical tension and release, punctuated by powerful dynamics, tight interplay between wailing saxes, mallets, and piano; vocals play a role here as well, jumping into the mix seemingly out of nowhere, plus some spoken dialog about the musical tones a bumblebee makes when it flies.
"Sudden Dusk" is a very fused experimental sounding piece, a sonic exploration if you will — not one that'll play in your head all day, but it does open the second half of the album nicely. "Lamplight" is an instrumental piece that seems to pick up where "Beese" left off, yet it's over all too soon. "Grandfather Was the Driver" is the strangest one of the bunch, yet one I've grown to appreciate over the years. "Trees for the Forest," a more relaxed and introspective piece, serves up the melody on multi-tracked saxes, while the bass wanders around and plays with harmonics at the bottom end. "In the Midst of Making" closes the album proper with a trio for saxes, twelve string and electric guitars, with some vocals that easily go almost unnoticed behind the rich musical backdrop.
Your bonus track is "No Cows," a funkier, hard hitting track that was recorded three years later than the rest, roughly about the same time as the second However album, Calling. Overall, this is an album that many would enjoy, there's enough going on here to keep even the most discriminating listener interested, yet it's remains fairly accessible overall.
Related artist(s): However
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