John Bassett – Unearth

John Bassett pic

Having discovered the progressive rock might of KingBathmat and its founder John Bassett, admittedly far later than we would have liked but joining the legion of fervour gripped fans nonetheless with the release of their last album Overcoming The Monster, there was a definite spring of excitement upon receiving Unearth the new solo endeavour from Bassett. As distinctly different to the previously mentioned release as it is just as imaginatively gripping, the new album is an enthralling embracing of ears and mind; man and record a melancholic troubadour parading evocative reflections of life and emotional experiences. Its canvas is a rich exploration of modern psyche across acoustically crafted progressive landscapes coloured with the richest hues of emotively sculpted melodic invention. It is a masterfully sculpted journey for creator and listener, one of the most rewarding and impressive this year so far.

The multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter, and producer from Hastings has self-released seven albums since 2003, the last few via his label Stereohead Records. Born in Walthamstow, London, Bassett first picked up an acoustic guitar as a child. He struggled at first with playing chords until when going to a guitar teacher it was realised that he was playing a right handed guitar, left handed. As soon as he picked up a left handed guitar songwriting began to flow easily and subsequently his talent. It was not long before Bassett was recording songs onto his computer; honing his skill, sound, and fluency whilst finding a good reception to his online albums, especially for the third, Fantastic Freak Show Carnival. At this point he was beginning to be offered gigs and in 2005 he put together a live band to perform his music. Arguably it has been the last two albums of the band, KingBathmat, which has brought the strongest spotlight and acclaim, both Truth Button and Overcoming The Monster critically acclaimed whilst garnering a new wave of enthused fans. His debut solo album, Unearth is a full one man creation with only additional drums from Nathan A Summers an added spice. Holding the same invigorating melodies and unpredictable intrigue which marks the band’s releases, the new album reveals new sides and aspects to Bassett’s songwriting and enveloping sound, easily rivalling his previous triumphs whilst forging new avenues.

From its first caress, a dark and instant incitement with a stringed croon and suggestive keys, Unearth sparks something instantly in the unearthsenses and imagination through opening track Stay Away. As Bassett’s vocals join the evocative melodies there is a Bowie-esque breeze cast which evolves into a warm narrative which reminds equally of ELO and Porcupine Tree whilst wrapping tenderly around the senses as a truly distinct proposition. It is a glorious enchantment which only enriches the appetite the more it crafts its seduction around the passions; guitar and keys cradling thoughts and emotions in their provocative arms as the equally mellow and persuasive tones of Bassett press forward the lyrical potency. It is arguable whether Unearth ever reaches the heights of the first song again though the album certainly gives it a stirring try starting with the following Survival Rate. Welcoming beats open up the gateway into folkish scenery of soothing melodies and similarly engaging vocals. As its predecessor, the track permeates the imagination with suggestive and more precise designs, musically and lyrically, all combining for another infectiously magnetic investigative adventure.

The outstanding start is easily continued by both Nothing is Sacred and the title track. The first has a sultriness to its colourful dance, elements of the start and body again urging thoughts of Bowie with a touch of Paul Simon this time around. Equally there are plenty of moments where the softer facets of KingBathmat come through, an obviously unavoidable spicing which only enhances the immersive mystery and enticement of the songs. Guitar and voice brings its successor into potent view, its melody driven seducing soaking every pore and thought as richly as the lyrical temptation, this and every song  proving a powerful lingering suasion in sound and word. As soothing as it is inciting, Unearth is one of those temptresses which never releases her lure and grip whether by the side of or from a distance rivalling the first as the pinnacle of the album.

The gentle jazzy smoulder of Pantomime acts outs its elegant narrative next, lighting another appealing diversion for the imagination whilst the scenic expanse of the instrumental Kylerhea provides a cinematic soundscape to explore individual and personal adventures within. Both captivate without restraint if not quite matching earlier conquests of the emotions, something TV is God soon succeeds doing with elevated success. With a delicious expressive almost acidic twang and whine to the song’s exotic climate over an indictment of technological reliance for escape and hiding from reality, the track is a riveting recruitment of senses and heart.

Both the summery realm of Keep Dear with its XTC like temptation and the equally spellbinding flight of Something that’s More Worthwhile consume ears and imagination like celestial sirens both instinctively washing receptive emotions with unrelenting seduction; melodies and harmonies invasive beauty alone and just as compelling and stimulating as the inventive musical skill and songwriting of Bassett. The pair are quite shadow free compared to other songs of the release but still kissed by a melancholic presence which makes its strongest persuasion with the closing track Comedian. Piano and guitar crafted with the ever impressive voice of Bassett shaping their evocative tales further, the song is an absorbing walk from emotional shadows and musical understanding.

Unearth is as creatively imaginative as maybe expected going by Bassett’s band releases but explores deeper emotionally imposing landscapes, involving and inspiring similarly intense aspects from the listener. It is a wonderfully intimate and evocatively expansive journey proving John Bassett as not only one of the finest British songwriters in rock music but music full stop.

http://www.johnbassettmusic.com/

https://kingbathmat.bandcamp.com/album/unearth

9/10

RingMaster 30/03/2014

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Plebeian Grandstand – Lowgazers

Plebeian Live w_ Ivo

French extreme metallers Plebeian Grandstand has one of those sounds which is so viciously ugly and vehemently destructive that you cannot understand why it is just so compelling as evidenced by their second album Lowgazers. Consisting of eight mercilessly voracious smogs of corrosive ambience and sonic violence, the release is pure noise toxicity; an insatiable pestilence of sound and hostility but as it suffocates and violates ears and beyond it is also dangerously addictive. To be honest it is hard to say exactly why this is so, though certainly the band craft the demise of the senses with undeniable invention and antagonistic passions, but the bottom line is that it is one compelling scourge and at the end of the hellacious day that is what it is all about.

Plebeian Grandstand have fused the darkest venomous, uncivil aspects of black metal with the equally poisonous core essences of hardcore and sludge metal; the result a maelstrom of spiteful dissonance and ravenous intensity which takes the listener into a ruthless tempest of sonic devastation, leaving them there basking and cowering in a primal wasteland, in this case Lowgazers. The release is the most destructive and bedlamic onslaught from the Paris based quartet yet, pushing intensively further the boundaries and inventive vitriol of their sound as first unveiled on their self-titled EP of 2008. Debut album How Hate is Hard to Define two years later ensured the band make an attention forging scar on the metal scene as equally did the band’s live performances which across the past years has seen them leave waste stages across Europe alongside bands such as Pelican, Horse The Band, Loma Prieta, The Holy Mountain, Off Minor, Intronaut, Celeste, The Ocean, I Pilot Daemon, Carnival In Coals, and Manimal. Two splits with firstly Divider and Bone Dance in 2011 and Cortez the following year arguably hinted at the jaundiced proposition to come but Lowgazers reaches far deeper into the blackest rancorous depths than imagined and could have been anticipated.

Recorded and mixed by Amaury Sauvé (Birds In Row, Calvaiire, Death Engine), the album immediately has thoughts running scared as FRONT NEW 300opener Thrvst emerges from a cold sonic ambience. Its sinister embrace is soon joined by slow sonic chords which entwine their lures tightly around ears before the onrush of barbarous blast beats and a tortuous sonic enslavement of the senses. Vocals viciously squall from within the storm, spewing their grudging malevolence across the unrelenting rhythmic abuse. All the time though there is a caustic groove, for want of a better word, which lays down the fullest contagious toxic bait from the inside of the noise friction consuming air and victim.

It is a crippling start to the album which evolves without real respite or respect for wounds into the following Endless Craving, another rapacious torment which smothers, gnaws, and devours body and soul. As I am sure you have assumed this is not easy listening, not an encounter with any ounce of comfort or mercy musically or vocally, and most like lyrically, though at times only the intensity of the delivery and surrounding fury is a clue but you can safely assume these will not be tales of love and golden fields. The track rages and ignites every rabid muscle and raw breath within itself for the nastiest rewarding exploit.

Whether it is an accumulative effect or simply the greater brutality of the songs, both Flail in the Bliss and Lowlifer put the listener under the strongest examination yet on the release, the first an inharmonious swamp of inventively cast malice and the second a synapse searing cacophony of vocal and emotional pain within an equally tormented furnace of mentally permeating sound. It has the senses ringing as it fades into fluid transformation into the ambient noise bred Relief of Troth. It is hard to call it an instrumental as the piece is more a pass over a caustic wasteland with hazardous shadows and sinister breath.

    Svn in Your Head mentally burns from its first acrid note; slowly unveiling an intrepid malignancy of sonic enveloping which stalks and invades with a doom spawned energy and sludge thick animosity, never relenting in its prowling weight of provocation and heavily leaning sound. As all the tracks, and album come to that, whether enjoyment comes into the equation is a debate for each to ponder but once more there is a persistent temptation which infects for a lingering need to suffer more, a pain both Aimless Roaming and the closing exploration of Mvrk Diving are keen to offer. Their individual enmities score and deplete the resistance of body and emotions even further bringing the album’s most inhospitable alienation in its conclusion, though again with riffs and rhythms horde like aggressors and lethal hooks the deepest transgressor it is hard not to want more.

Released digitally March 31st and as a 2 LP release via Throatruiner Records on April 10th, Lowgazers is a chaos hard to endure and ultimately survive intact against but a merciless adventure from Plebeian Grandstand that it is easy to recommend to those brave enough to face its discordant conflict.

http://plebeiangrandstand.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/PLEBEIAN-GRANDSTAND/160680714032

8/10

RingMaster 30/03/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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