FolkWords Reviews

‘Islands’ from The Cosmic Array - a ‘Marmite album’ if ever there was one

(March 16, 2016)

Multiple spins downrange and I’m still confused by 'Islands' from The Cosmic Array. There's certainly a sizeable slice of prog-psych soundscape, perhaps some Americana - quite a lot from time to time; that’s joined islands the cosmic arrayby some folky influences and acoustic cuts mixed with late sixties synths and weird soundbites. And still I’m searching for ‘le mot juste’ to describe ‘Islands’ it’s as difficult as herding cats or folding gravy. In the end it’s best to just let it wash over your ears and go with the flow.

There’s going to be division over this one; those that love, those that hate, and the perplexed. This is certainly a ‘Marmite album’ if ever there was one. Perhaps some will find a connection but many may have to search for it. Some will turn off rather than persevere, and that’s a shame because in its own confusing way ‘Islands’ pays off in the end. 'All I Am' opens with its ethereal embrace before 'Fire Up The Sky' takes a more tenuous step towards psychedelia, ‘Kathmandu’ offers echoing vocals and meandering instrumentation, ’Sea of Tranquility’ is anything but tranquil with its distorted guitars, 'Dear Ones' provides a quiet piece of reflection with vocals drifting over a subtle musical weave, and the instrumental ‘Drone’ is exactly that. Not an easy listen but there is a certain attraction.

The Cosmic Array is Paul Battenbough (guitar, keys, Spanish guitars, piano, banjo, wah wah guitar, feedback guitars, strings, organ, vocals) joined by Andy Fung (bass) Huw Rees (drums) Mat Wigley (synths, sounds, saw, percussion, harmonica) Danny Kilbride(bass) Jon Coward (guitar) Abby Sohn (vocals) John Elvis Berry (pedal steel) and Frank Naughton (Maui xaphoon).

'Islands' is due April 2016 on Folkwit Recordings. Website: www.thecosmicarray.co.uk

Review: Charlie Elland

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