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Checkmate Savage CD
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Checkmate Savage - The Phantom Band [CD]
Glasgow's Phantom band have been stealthily developing their melange of... well, just about everything good in modern music, for four years now, finally settling on a name that encapsulated their somewhat indefinable approach. If we were lazy we'd reference krautrock, folk, post rock, tribal rhythms or even (don't laugh) Big Country. But we're not, and let's just leave it at 'very good' for now. Here's why...
Each track represents a tussle, taking you in several directions at once. Only on the instrumental Crocodile (it's a very good thing when a band have the intelligence to know exactly when to shut their mouths), is undeniably 'motorik' in sound; although it's more like a gaelic Neu!.
Checkmate Savage (the title alludes to our limited tenure as top species on the planet) has an undeniably large and boastful, if doomy, sound. But an heroic ability to throw caution to the wind and sound brazenly BIG mustn't be mistaken for the meaningless posturing of a band as dreadful as Glasvegas. We're talking of a devil-may-care combination of six souls throwing everything they know at a wall and seeing what sticks. It has little to do with boring old-fashioned rock.
The resultant pot pourri combines obtuse lyricism with experimentalism, analogue drones and pulses, and, most importantly bloody great tunes. Opening single The Howling is as good an ear worm as you're liable to hear this year. The previously released Throwing Bones rattles along like a hellbound charger racing down Sauciehall Street on a Saturday night.
So, thrills, spills and and an unabashed ability to sing in their native tongue. What are you waiting for? --Chris Jones
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Top Customer Reviews
Just when you think you've got the measure of a particular track it'll make an unexpected turn in a completely different direction, never more strikingly than on "Throwing Bones" where an accapella barbershop quartet suddenly hijacks the tune in mid flow. By rights, of course, it shouldn't work but in fact it does so spectacularly, with a remarkable self-assurance that seems stitched through the entire work. At times it's hard to believe that this is a debut album, such is the self-confidence running through its veins.
There are no throwaway tunes here. Nothing clocks in at under four minutes, whilst the brooding "Island" takes almost nine to build from solo guitar and voice to its powerful choral climax. Only on the album's closer "Whole is On My Side" do you sense the band beginning to run out of steam a bit, but by then they've done more than enough to earn their five stars.
Very early days still, but I'll be amazed if this isn't on many people's "Best of 2009" list come the end of the year.
Comparisons have been made the Beta Band and I can see the logic of that . The Phantom Band have a similar off-kilter but esoterically appealing approach to music . But they subvert norms and interweave styles even more .At times it sounds so resolutely studious and serious you fear lives may depend on it , other times it's so playful and off-beat that it seems life's just there to be enjoyed and to hell with everything. Checkmate Savage is imperfect but gloriously so.
The six members of The Phantom Band work in fields as disparate as art, law, social work and librarianship when not fulfilling band duty and maybe it's this eclectic mixture of influences that make the music so thrillingly hybrid. Rock mixes with folk via electronica , or splenetic rhythms vie with motorik rumblings or portentous keyboards pinion bass that growls like an inflamed appendix into a queasy pop chorus. Choral effects pop up at oddly opportune moments. Extended jams ( the recording process with ex-Delgado Paul Savage-perhaps the title alludes to him is some way?- took in lots of formless jams ) emerge gracefully from the arrangements.
The nine minute centrepiece of the album "Island" starts out as a lovely lilting acoustic ballad with ascending choral vocals with the vocals about "wildest Love" and "purest love" picked out by gentle banjo.Read more ›
Rick Anthony provides Curtisian vocals that have a similar clear Scottish twang and delivery as Malcolm Middleton, but still maintains a distinctiveness, a true talent and certainly a voice that helps carry the record.
All in all, worth a buy!
As a random aside for anyone who's interested, i have found this to be an excellent album for running to. This and Interpol's 'Our Love To Admire' back to back, 10k of leafy Autumn roads, job's a good 'un.
The foreboding drums of `Burial Sounds', chants and moog synths of `Folk Song Oblivion' all betray the album's progressive and psychedelic qualities. The latter of these two tracks later breaks into a less oppressive number and resembles dawn breaking from an inky night. With the refrain mention of `mountainsides', we are swiftly returned to all things bucolic, as the track name may suggest.
`Crocodile' is a lengthy instrumental, which opens with five minutes of building percussion that recalls a frog chorus with its choice of wood instruments. The break, five minutes in, introduces a post-rock sentiment to the fabric, which earlier brooded and simmered to the boil. `Checkmate Savage' embraces the eclectic and `Halfhound' opens with a bluesy-rock riff before evolving into a lolloping pysch. rock beast.
And the eclecticism continues, looking for the Scottish reply to Fleet Foxes White Winter Hymnal? Then, look no further than `Island', a part prog, part folk masterpiece.
`Checkmate Savage' features an upside-down hallway on its cover, and whilst this album will not turn its listeners' world so dramatically, it may well sufficiently jostle him into consciousness during these cold, winter months.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well sorry for being a little cryptic but I listened to this album and thought that it sounded a bit like a cross between pink floyd and new order. Read morePublished on 23 Oct. 2013 by madant
Strange. You'd think a band so obviously indebted to Can's Teutonic motorik sound wouldn't have blatantly stolen their name (Phantom Band) from Can's drummer (Jaki :Leibezeit's,... Read morePublished on 3 Aug. 2011 by R. Rooksby
Had this for 2 months before listening to it... now can't believe it was just like sitting there!! Mega stuff!!Published on 16 Jan. 2010 by Steven Berry
Found this by accident, trawling through Google for recommendations to listen to on Spotify. After listening to the first 6 tracks I knew I had to buy this album. Read morePublished on 25 Jun. 2009 by Mr. Sr Edwards
Everyone should buy album and listen to it for the rest of forever. It is incredible. xxPublished on 1 May 2009 by mousebee
Already my album of 2009 - i'll be surprised if it gets bettered this year.
Dont know how to describe this album - lyrically dark - a rockier/folkier Beta Band - Sort... Read more
Astonishing, awesome, amazing, formidable, brooding,enigmatic,
an album you cannot leave alone.