Exposé Online banner

Spoke of Shadows — II
(Firepool Records FR008, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-12-11

II Cover art

At the time of the first Spoke of Shadows album in 2014, it wasn’t clear if there would be another. The group is a collaboration between two musicians who both have other commitments, so that album could have been a one-off. Happily it was not, and this second release is another great slab of instrumental progressive rock. The focus is slightly different from member Mark Cook’s other band, Herd of Instinct, with a few more non-rock elements incorporated into the mix. The other member, drummer Bill Bachman, has a more aggressive and busy style than is generally heard with HoI, though it doesn’t manifest on every track here. But Spoke of Shadows deserves to be considered as its own thing, not just in comparison with the musicians’ other work. In the balance between heavy sounds and calmness, there’s a wide range, though the bulk will land further to the mellow side, with acoustic sounds, subtle percussion, washes of keyboards, and flute from guest Bob Fisher on three tracks. I’m frequently reminded of Tony Levin’s pre-Stick Men work such as Waters of Eden or Pieces of the Sun. Melodic fretless bass often takes the lead for soaring lines. On “Letting Go” we hear the most unexpected sound on the album — jazzy piano from Shannon Wickline. It’s a little jarring at first, seeming not to fit with the style of the rest of the music, but surprises are what keeps music from being boring, so I’ll give it a thumbs-up. “Face in the Window” presents the other side of the band, with heavy riffs and a guitar solo from guest Michael Harris. It’s valid to draw comparisons with other groups featuring fretless bass prominently, such as Polytown. The production is beautiful, with both presence and depth, and the performances, while not flashy, are impeccable. This group has internalized many of the lessons to be learned from listening to Robert Fripp, Djam Karet, Peter Gabriel, and many more, and reformed them into music that is original and enjoyable.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Spoke of Shadows

More info
http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/spokeofshadows2

Latest news

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

2018-01-05
Ray Thomas RIP – On Thursday, 4 January 2017, the world lost Ray Thomas, founding member of the Moody Blues. Thomas sang and played flute, and was responsible for writing a number of the band's most memorable songs. He was 76. » Read more

2017-12-22
Roswell Rudd RIP – Jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, one of the distinctive players of his instrument in many strains of music, has died at the age of 82. With a career stretching back to the early 60s and over a hundred recordings featuring his playing, he leaves behind a substantial legacy. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. » Read more

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dr. L. Subramaniam / Karsten Vogel - Meetings – Dr. L. Subramaniam is an icon of Indian improvisation. From his Karnatic traditional undertakings and Western classical endeavors his international collaborations with Ali Akbar Khan, Yehudi Menuhin...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues