Exposé Online banner

Spoke of Shadows — Spoke of Shadows
(Firepool Records FR005, 2014, CD)

by Henry Schneider, 2014-07-01:

Spoke of Shadows Cover art Spoke of Shadows is the Dallas-based collaboration between drummer Bill Bachman and Warr guitarist Mark Cook (Herd of Instinct). Not having any idea what a Warr guitar is, I was curious. A little searching uncovered that a Warr guitar is touch style guitar with 12 to 14 strings played with two hands that can also be used as a controller. This new type of guitar allows for quite a range of sounds and styles. The result on this debut album is a collection of 12 instrumentals; most in the three to four minute range that move from quiet and melodic to energetic progressive jazz, incorporating elements of Robert Fripp at his most lyrical. There are passages where the music sounds like Frippertronics. The Warr guitar apparently makes it very easy to play these complex parts. The promo material states that they wanted to create a hybrid progressive music covering a wide range of moods and styles. I may be dense, because that does not jump out at me from this disc. The music is very laid back and enjoyable, but quite similar from track to track. Even with guest musicians from Djam Karet, Herd of Instinct, and others I do not detect a wide range of styles. What does catch me off guard is that each track seems to end too soon, which does not happen to me too often. Overall, this is a well thought out and composed collection of music by two accomplished musicians.

by Peter Thelen, 2014-03-24:

A collaborative project led by two Texas musicians, drummer Bill Bachman and Warr guitarist Mark Cook, its genesis following the completion of the latest Herd of Instinct album Conjure, a band in which Cook is a key member. Cook’s goal was to produce a sound that was more moody and dynamic than HoI, and being a multi-instrumentalist, he began layering parts for Warr, 8-string bass and various other instruments on some compositional ideas he had come up with. Bachman began working with Cook, and the project began to evolve, eventually bringing in numerous guests, track depending, including Gayle Ellett of Djam Karet on Mellotron and Fender Rhodes, Bob Fisher of HoI on flute, and additional players covering guitar, piano, fretless bass and Warr guitar, many participating in the compositions also. In general the twelve instrumental pieces here are following more melodic and diverse directions within an overall rock idiom, even approaching symphonic at times, although part of that may be attributable to the seamless involvement of so many guests in the compositions and arrangements throughout. That said, there are still plenty of hard and edgy moments that punctuate and propel the sound at various points, producing contrast and fire that benefits the overall program, and keeps it interesting from beginning to end. While some comparisons with Herd of Instinct are inevitable, Spoke of Shadows is an integrated effort to bring in new ideas, expand outward into new directions, and evoke new feelings. And on those points, this release is an imminent success. Time will tell if this collaboration continues and produces more inspired material from the same well of ideas. We can certainly hope so.


Filed under: New releases , 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Gayle Ellett, Spoke of Shadows

More info

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hot Tuna - Double Dose – Long unavailable on CD, this full-length live disc (originally a 2LP set) is a superb summary of Hot Tuna's career up to that point; in fact the band split up shortly after the album hit the street in...  (2008) » Read more

Ulysses - Neronia – A German five piece, Ulysses play a neo-prog style that is far more interesting than most. Lyrically ambitious, they occasionally remind of Twelfth Night, although their style gravitates more toward...  (1994) » Read more

If Thousands - I Have Nothing – This ambient duo has now produced six discs since their unusual entry into the ambient music world when this classically trained vocalist/guitarist and punk bassist dropped their known instruments to...  (2006) » Read more

Advent - Cantus Firmus – I have not heard a new release this year that evoked so many conflicting emotions. The first Advent release in a decade, Cantus Firmus is also their first output I have heard. A quartet of guitar /...  (2007) » Read more

Brown vs Brown - Odds and Unevens – Rock vs. jazz; punk vs. art; complex compositions vs. raw improvisation. Brown vs. Brown encompasses all of this and much more, turning in seven long tracks of blistering raw energy for their second...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues