Clapton Fox – Amazing Thunderstorm (Peacock Skins – release date 1 August 2011)
Tracks to download: Amazing Thunderstorm, Oblivious
With a name and an album title like that you can be forgiven for anticipating an arty, elemental prog-fest that probably takes risks and hits the target most of the time.
This album is halfway between an advert for Pro-tools and a genuinely creative album of sonic canvasses that improve with each listen. There is smorgasbord of drum machines from through the decades and samples that jar and seduce in equal measure but they are held together by songs that stand up on their own.
They can sound like Hot Chip or Syd Barrett Pink Floyd which is no bad thing in the age of downloads and homogeneity in musical preferences but it can appear like a lack of direction at times which probably misses the point but is still true.
This is a confident, creative unit determined to strike out on their own terms and so occasionally screwing up as a result. That said, I enjoyed the uncertainty and unpredictability of the journey through this album and even replayed a few tracks. There is light and shade, false endings, dramatic backgrounds, choral drums, Beatlesque invention and general noodling about which captures the experimental early seventies vibe, despite it probably all being done on garage band or similar.
The highlight for me is the title track which has nicked Geddy Lee’s keyboards from Xanadu on A Farewell To Kings to great effect. Also sonically satisfying is the breathless immediacy of Oblivious and the angular, soulfully prog meanderings of She Ate The Feather. A nicely worked album of real intent and some quality – and at least they mean it.
Steve Buttercase –Guest Reviewer