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4.0 out of 5 stars
'I've just cheered up a bit', 24 July 2001
Under a Sun is the second album from Witness and veers in an entirely different direction from the muffled clarity of Before the Calm. If you are a fan of the debut, prepare yourself as on first listen you seem to face an entirely new band who seem to be writing big 'ol happy rock songs.
On first listen I was shocked by one line in particular which strode through the chords of joy. 'So shine a light, so I can see where I'm gonna go' jumped on me with so much Walton Mountain wholesomeness that the result was a cringe that damaged my facial muscles so deeply that a recovery program has been advised to me that involves 20 minutes of mirror exercises every morning followed by three bowls of jelly. The question still remains, what has happed?
I caught up with the band before their gig in Glow 303 in Aberdeen to find out what exactly had happened to them and why they now sound as if they had been eating Fruit and Fibre constantly since the release of their debut 'Before the Calm'. An album removed from the tradition of the song and that leads your soul into areas of still that you never new existed and ranks up their with REM's Murmur. Was it purely the crunchy goodness or is their something else?
As it turned out, the new sound was nothing to do with Britain's leading breakfast cereal and instead is purely the result of the band being together. Boldly they entered the studio and created this silent mind-shattering album which resulted in tremendous critical praise and a fair amount of touring. 'Under a Sun' is the sound of this group of individuals coming together with their sound and creating a far fuller sound which is far removed from the silent studio intensity of 'Cause and effect' and 'Still' from their debut.
So is this album any good? Well yes, 'it rocks!' as some like to say. It is confident, trying all the time and is definitely aimed at holding your ears open with its pure melodies. Contrary to atmosphere of silent stillness you may expect from the band, the album takes you by the hand and strides forward with you almost running to keep up as the band drag you into this new land of confident encouragement and adventure. As you listen again and again the revolutionised lyrics and new sound begin to take you over and you realise that you are listening to the sound the band truly want to create.
'I've just cheered up a bit' was the comment that stuck out when I talked to Gerald Starkie about the new Witness. Somehow the lyric that caused such a cringe seems to make perfect sense.