Just listening to "Cold House" by Hood put me in mind of this near-forgotten pioneer soundtrack. "The Winter Hit Hard" from said CD is pure Bark Psychosis - circa this album "Hex". Ghostly instrumentation, an undercurrent of menace through cold, lonely vistas. A post-rock bliss-out. They do ambient wonderfully on "Pendulum Man"; the seminal Talk Talk is recalled on "Absent Friend". But mostly, this is music taking another step into pastures new and uncharted, still sounding as relevant and vital (well to me anyway) as it did 9 years ago. If you bought Cold House or Amnesiac last year, check this out, you may find some strands of similarity, and see how ahead of their time Bark Psychosis actually were.
From the that very first gentle, lush piano at the beginning of 'The Loom' all the way to the slo-mo fall away of 'Pendulum man' via quiet funk of 'Big Shot', the fractured pre post-rock of 'Fingersplit' and the out and out gorgeousness of 'Eyes and Smiles' this is LP with no filler, just brilliant, brilliant music.
The sound of walking home across urban greenbelt land with the noise of busy traffic just within ear shot in the early hours of a hot summer's night!
I have better albums in my collection but ever since I bought this particular one it's barely been off my iTunes.
Its dark ambient textures and pulsing rhythms lend it a vaguely hypnotic feeling (see 'Big Shot' especially) that works well in the background while you're doing other things. But really it's active listening that gives the biggest payback. Otherwise you'd be missing the soaring strings of 'The Loom,' the chiming crescendo of 'Absent Friend' and the gorgeous horns of 'Eyes & Smiles' to name but a few of the incredible moments littered across this album.
Aside from some over-indulgent passages this is one of the most remarkable albums of the 90's. Just a shame that it's so hard to get hold of.
If you liked Talk Talk's "Spirit of Eden", and thought that there was nothing else that satisfied your appetite for the atmosphere and originality of that album, this is probably the dream album for you. I don't mean that it is in anyway a copycat of SoE, but the main player in Bark Psychosis (Graham Sutton)is a huge Talk Talk fan, and it has obviously been a big influence (more on the feel than the sound) of this superb album. It is almost impossible to describe, so I won't go down the road of listing the tracks, and it takes a few listens before the songs start to reveal their hidden depths, and that, I suppose is even more reason to recomend it to SoE fans. This Cd is really more of a suite, than a collection of songs, and it works best listened to from start to finish, as each piece compliments the one before it. If I could give it 10 stars I would. I noticed the price of this CD is £30+, but even at that cost it is worth the money as it so rewarding and uplifting.
I have loved this album on CD for many years, so as a keen vinyl buyer again was interested in the reissue. The label has reissued a number of interesting recordings, but the sources for these is unknown to me (it's important, since a lot of vinyl is being re-pressed from CD masters - really, what is the point but to make a quick buck)?
It came up at a good price on Amazon, so I thought I'd give it a go. I'm not an audiophile, but I am pretty sensitive to sound quality. I was impressed to be honest. The pressing is quiet and of good quality and I was hearing things that I'd not noticed before (maybe I was listening more closely). I would definitely recommend this release to vinyl lovers (and the album itself is a must have in my opinion), even though the source is dubious!
My tape of this 20 year old album had long worn out, so a pleasant surprise to find this vinyl re-issue available.
'The Loom' opens with moody piano & strings; a percussion and bass groove creeps in building to the opening 4-line flourish of the vocal; the swell soon subsides however & locks into a textured groove. An intrigueing if incomplete-feeling opener. More inventive bass & percussion weaves beneath tremolo guitar on track 2; the vocal is a little close & breathy perhaps, but this is offset with colourful brass phrases; after the second 'chorus' the pace & voices wind down like clockwork to single note chimes. More tremelo guitar with jazzy kit on standout track 'Absent Friend', with touches of melodica I think; the "biggest joke of all" refrain is truly beautiful with the guitar & programming weaving to a satisfying end. Closing side one is 'Bigshot', a 3am dash for escape set to pulsing bass & jazzy vibes.
Side 2 opener 'Fingerspit' is all shuffling jazz kit & draws too much on the groups' stated influences for my liking; non-album tracks from this period such as 'Blue', 'Murder City' or 'Reserve Shot Gunman' would have been better selections at this point. Things pick-up however with 'Eyes & Smiles' which builds with interlocking figures & trumpet to a powerful finale. This just leaves 'Pendulum Man', a gently pulsing chillout to close the album.
On release, I remember thinking this record didn't quite live up to the promise of their earlier efforts (gathered on the 'Independency' CD), but now looking back, it seems a bold & forward-looking record which tried - maybe at the expense of a balanced group dynamic - to incorporate the emerging computer technology to the style. It's not I think the 'groundbreaking masterpiece' some reviewers have claimed, but then anything mainman Sutton touches is worth your attention. Put your headphones on and stare at the cover . .