Arcade Messiah – Self Titled

John Bassett Promo 3

The creativity of UK musician John Bassett is a feverish kaleidoscope of colour, invention, and innovative exploration. He has proven it time and time again for over a decade, releasing eight increasingly impressive and attention grabbing albums either as KingBathmat or his own name. The last couple of years or so has seen a richer recognition of his craft and expansive musical imagination, the last two critically acclaimed KingBathmat albums Truth Button and Overcoming The Monster, the latter in 2013, pushing he and the band to the fore of progressive metal/rock whilst his debut acoustic album Unearth earlier this year, reinforced his reputation and ability to explore varied and deeply immersive structures and landscapes. Now the Hastings based multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter, and producer returns with new solo project Arcade Messiah, a vehicle for his instrumental emprises which as shown by its self-titled debut album, are set to also inflame for ears and imagination.

Merging the boldest essences of styles such as metal, stoner, doom, prog, and math rock within constantly revealing canvases of post rock, Bassett and album provide gripping soundscapes for thoughts to cast their own explorations within and for emotions to colour with their own adventures. The musician talking about the project and album commented that “after writing and producing numerous KingBathmat albums and more recently the acoustic solo album Unearth, I decided I wanted to create my first instrumental album, and I wanted it to be set, audibly and visually in a dark, bleak apocalyptic aura of despair and anger. I wanted to focus on enormous riffs and sorrowful yet powerful musical refrains and place them within a terrain of unusual time signatures interspersed by moments of psychedelic calm.” It is an aim successfully achieved but even more an endeavour sculpting one of the essential moments of the year.

Instrumental albums do not always sink in easily with us, a demand for something maybe indefinable but persistent in igniting body and imagination a persistent requirement which the Arcade Messiah Album Covershowing off of supreme technical skill cannot satisfy. In Arcane Messiah there is nothing but that aural and inventive stimulation, from opening track Sun Exile the album a mouth-watering and rigorously compelling provocation for senses and unravelling gests in the imagination. From the first stirring and virulent call of guitar, album and opener becomes a potent weave of sound and aural suggestion, especially as a hypnotic canter of rhythms and fiery melodies join the emerging sonic picture soon after. Twists in time and invention are as fascinating as the heated creative climate of the track, its increasingly steamy breath and dark expression seductive and intimidating sparking a portentous Icarus like warning in thoughts.

The following Your Best Line Of Defence Is Obscurity slips in on a gentle breeze of sonic air and melodic caressing, though again it is a coaxing lined with dark bass shadows and prowling beats. The imagination is lured into the depths of the heavy smoulder of the piece with ease, thoughts of a lonely existence within the turmoil of predatory but deceptively welcoming emotive scenery emerging. Bassett’s guitar work is riveting, every groove and scorched melody inescapable incitement, but to be fair that applies to drums and bass through to simply the immersing imposing atmospheres conjured. Thoughts are instantly embraced and sparked by the primal and elegant nature of the music, a common factor across the album and in evidence with Traumascope straight after. Its initial post rock ambience is lined with a funk kissed bassline and lively beats from the drums, a union which hangs around before parting its mist for the voracious tide of riffs, which in turn lead to and compliment a stoner-esque flaming to the emerging tempest of emotional reflection and sonic rapacity. The track is a mesmeric blaze which never gets out of hand but leaves its dramatic imprint on senses and imagination with burning contagion.

Aftermath is a sobering haunting after the previous furnaces of sound and inventive intensity, a delicious feast of invasive melodies and bracing elegance which comes with sinister shadowing and anguished reflections. It also has an ethereal touch to its climate but in many ways is just the calm before or within the storm, its peace the bridge to the inventive alchemy of Everybody Eating Everyone Else. The track is scintillating; its initial also haunted passage the gateway into an antagonistic yet infectiously magnetic terrain of abrasing riffs and sonic temptation. There is a feeling of safety within turbulent and aggressive times or landscapes to the song, the guitars providing guidance through fiercely provocative exploits sculpted by rhythms and Bassett’s riff led raw sonic energy. Though musically it is different, there is a feel of early Killing Joke to the structure and tension of this and many tracks, an unrelenting persuasion which is wonderfully nagging at the heart of the ferociously inventive mergers of light and dark.

Steamy stoner spirals of sound open up The Most Popular Form Of Escape next, their acidic tones and spicing bringing rich hues to the climatic broadening of the song’s thick web of flavour and enterprise. Folkish elements are as prevalent in the piece as progressive endeavour and a sterner metallic tenacity, it all creating another unpredictable fascination for ears to bask in, the imagination to sculpt with, and appetite to devour greedily. Its enthralling waltz makes way for the closing Roman Resolution, itself an aural teleidoscope with wide reflective views and internal emotive majesty. An epic cruise through ever evolving sonic experimentation and poetic melodies, it brings a sensational release to a breath-taking close.

After the combined brilliance of Overcoming The Monster and Unearth, there was a small wonder where Bassett went from there. Where he ventured was into a creative maelstrom of sublime ingenuity with a technical and instinctive invention which has no need to indulge in over the top flourishes and pretension as it steals thoughts and passions. Arcade Messiah presents instrumental music which is organic and bracing whilst Bassett might just have put a stranglehold on best of year charts come the end of next month.

Arcade Messiah is available as a name your price digital version and on CD now via Stereohead Records @ https://arcademessiah.bandcamp.com

http://www.arcademessiah.com/

http://www.johnbassettmusic.com

RingMaster 25/11/2014

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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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KingBathmat – Overcoming The Monster

KingBathmat Publicity Photo 3

The fact that Overcoming The Monster, the new album from UK progressive rockers KingBathmat, is their seventh full length release but the first time they have come to our attention really drives home the fact that we, and I suggest all of us are only scratching the surface of music and the depth of good bands, no matter how much we think we are in control and knowledgeable of what is out there. Better late than never certainly applies to this outstanding release as well as relief that they finally have ventured upon our radar, though again a mystery as to why a band this good has remained in the shadows for so long especially as going by those in the know, Overcoming The Monster is an album in a strong line of impressive releases from the Hastings quartet.

KingBathmat musically is a band wonderfully impossible to pin down. Hailed as a progressive rock band they equally employ all essences from psychedelic and alternative rock through to electronic, grunge, experimental metal and more into their unique creativity. Formed by songwriter /vocalist/guitarist John Bassett the band has unleashed a sextet of albums from debut Son of a Nun in 2003 through to the acclaimed Truth Button which came out at the start of the year. With David Georgiou (keyboards), Lee Sulsh (bass), and Bernie Smirnoff (drums) completing the line-up, KingBathmat creates a tempest of invention and imaginative adventure which is impossible to resist or escape once within its riveting clutches. Overcoming The Monster is a compelling flight of melodic fire, rhythmic provocation, and sonic beauty all wrapped in an ingenuity of craft and thought which leaves the listener quite breathless. With tracks which investigate the theme ‘of psychological obstacles (monsters of the mind) that are manufactured in our thoughts, both internally through our insecurities, externally by the outside influence of others and collectively through the mass media which uses fear as a tool to manipulate our perceptions’, the Stereohead Records album evokes and ventures into personal reflection igniting emotional dialogue with its potent premise and presence whilst all the time teasing and soaking the senses in music which is simply enthralling.

Opening track Sentinel makes a muscular entrance, riffs and rhythms claiming their piece of the senses whilst a brewing sonic Overcoming The Monster Album Covermist wraps deviously around their capture. It is an immediately gripping start which once in command from its dramatic stance, relaxes into an emotive plea of keys and the vocals which paint the thought cradling narrative. The tenderly toned weave continues to expand its call with growing keys and group harmonies whilst the bass adds shadows that menace as they lurk within and stalk the melodic blaze of sound and feeling. As the song ventures further from its strong start across an equally intense if slightly underwhelming course there is a brooding sense of something impending. This becomes a solid gripping breath as, and not for the only time on the album, the track evolves into a potent and aurally dexterous mesh of ingenuity and contagion. Just beyond midway of the near nine minute track it unleashes the bass to roam with a new raptorial hunger framed by the equally greedy rhythms of Smirnoff whilst the vocals of Bassett ride their refreshing caging with expressive might. As riffs add their ‘savagery’ for the next evolution of the song, it climbs all over the senses as sonic ropes of invention tether it securely to the passions.

Though it took a while to fully persuade the song makes an impressive start to the release which is soon surpassed by firstly Parasomnia. The haunting opening child’s toy box like charm is a breath of innocence against the disturbing ambience enveloping the senses behind it, the tones of Bassett shaping the narrative with a continuing magnetic pull. Into its full presence the shadows dissipate as melodic hues paint their caresses from guitar and keys onto the imagination. Combining flames of heavy rock, metallic angst, and melodic washes, the song captivates from start to finish with its unpredictable grandeur, thoughts of Mars Volta, ELO, King Crimson, and most definitely Horslips spawning from the shifting spicery within the scintillating song. For all its triumph it is soon eclipsed by the stunning title track, easily the best song on the towering album. The niggling sonic coaxing which introduces the song is a continual temptation throughout whilst around it the band ebb and flow in crystalline invention, infectious melodies, and multi-flavoured invention. There is a familiarity to the track which is deceiving but certainly as it unwinds its striking persuasion and mystique the likes of Muse, Comsat Angels, and Soundgarden as well as Porcupine Tree and Floyd spring to mind.

Both the layered Superfluous, with its tantalising wealth of textures and jazz bred soaring heat, and the smouldering Reality Mining lead the listener into new teasing excursions of epidemically alluring emotional and aural exploits whilst the closing Kubrick Moon reaches into absorbing space for another original baptism of progressive and psychedelic musical chemistry. The trio of songs make for a towering conclusion to one of the very best progressive releases this year, one though completely unique in voice we suggests stands easily by the side of the new releases from The Ocean and Between The Buried And Me…it is that good.

http://www.kingbathmat.com/

9.5/10

RingMaster 22/07/2013

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