Monarchs of the Spukhaus
This is getting beyond serious, now on album number five, John Amadon trumps his previous fame and success of The Bursting Sheaf and Seven Stars. This next release reimagines his talents in the craft of sound-good-feel-good composing to yet another level of brilliance. With a recording process undertaken during lockdown, the hush of the neighbourhood gave Amadon the perfect zone for rewiring his know-how into yet another creative tulpa. Long-term bandmates and music companions Scott McPherson (Beck, Elliot Smith, Bright Eyes, Neil Finn), William Slater, and Paul Brainard (Richmond Fontaine) each lend their expertise to give this multi-instrumental work its premium ingredients.
The music begins on a track called Poor Teresa. It begins with a catchy guitar groove which sprouts wings then flies into a flock of sounds. Drums, bass, acoustic guitar, and vocal all join in with the riff. The voice carries a fantastic harmony that hangs just behind in a cool breeze. A great range of notes splashes melody across kinetic guitar parts that evolve and flow unlike anything made by a machine. A smooth rush of acoustic guitar follows, a piano dwells in the sidelines waiting for its taxi. Blues notes roll out from the highway corner pulling standing-rainwater along with the turning wheels. A slush of emotions and gathering sentiments overflow as the crafty bars follow the line of the horizon stretching over Entering A Northwest Town.
A folk edge pushes the line further afield as cymbal splashes elevate the bar. Neat tempos fathom a twisting melody of chord strikes and vocal swervery that shimmies on a coiling spring of progression. Drums pick up the pace and a bass guitar punches in the time. Pentacle Mind shows the map of intention that prevents honest communication. Next is Without Doubt. A rock sensibility chugs like a vintage engine and homely moreish descriptions of music define the mood. Harmonica is added, inviting yet more colour to the vibrant palette. Funky layers of melody swap between steel plucks and bottle-necked fretless swings that amplify the atmosphere.
Harvest The Clones begins and it reminds me of the 1970s. I wasn't there, it's called sehnsucht as it allows me to feel like I was. A rolling progression of hill-side like composition brings out colours and feelings from first the vocal and then a mixture of instruments that each carry a complimentary focus. Next up, an electric guitar with ample distortion revs up the inner fire and creates a forum of snappy drums and shredded power-chords. An uplifting melody climbs the slopes of rock with backpack and camera, taking moments to look back and see how far they've come. Lighthouse Keeper goes round and round like a reel of rhythms that elevate and shine out across interchangeable waterscapes.
A rumble of chords meet harmonious melody as Pills On The Nightstand opens up. A melancholy vibe winds like fast-growing ivy across once loved and cherished garden toys. Choral voices rise like the warmth on sunlit pillows and tuneful bursts of melody wrap like pieces of time preserved for moments on end. Then, a fiery rock n roll energy chokes up the engine and pushes fuel into the chamber. A boom of power collides with the riff in between the voice to provide a laid-back roar through easy-going fast-lanes. Parable Of The Lone Mare gallops along at a suitable pace to absorb the blurring of life around us.
A bash of drums turns into a sleek chord progression that's effervescent with tempo. The vocal-line begins, highly manicured strings vibrate in tuneful bursts that twinkle with the metal clash of cymbals. Lyrics about a mad dog bring unique imagery to Flamethrowers In The Mall. Perhaps it's a zombie attack? Soulful blues riffs form spiralling eddies within the churning torrent of guitar and percussion as the song builds and dips with musical clarity. Francine begins with a plucked guitar melody that honours the great folk musicians. Twiddles of tone form chords and drumming that rise from the bedrock of skilful melody. A silky layering of classical production sweeps over the melodious and catchy lines.
Another drum-fill begins the song as a piano and guitar duet in rumbling drives of tune. The vocal builds the main character with the familiar harmonisation and delay that warms and breaths life into the sound. To Get Back Home carries the feeling of fulfilment from adventure and renewal of one's place in the world. The album ends up on Here You Are, and here we are, at the end. A chugging guitar builds with drums and melody until its time for the singing to start. Folkish melody hits us as the music dives under the blanket with us. Character builds from drums and guitar and undercurrents of harmony give fresh feeling to the notes. A memorable ending to a classic album, the scope of feeling offered up is cavernous.
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