The arrival of King Biscuit Time's full-length debut is one of the year's most anticipated musical happenings. The pet project of ex-Beta Band frontman Stephen Mason and his first foray back into his artistry since the band split in 2005, 'Black Gold' should mark a magnificent re-invention and re-introduction.
Yet it has had the rug pulled from under it with Mason seemingly announcing his departure from music and calling time on his latest venture, before the album has even been released. Sure it could all be a shoot; a cunning ploy to get the momentum behind the record but even the most cynical of critics would cast that notion aside as quickly as they conjured it. So we are just left with why? A question that becomes even more poignant when you consider that this opus could be Mason's masterpiece.
Throughout its entirety, the album is a hypnotic fusion of country-tinged trip-hop, acoustic folk and lush electro/acoustic ambience, a testament to the imagination of the creator. What it lacks in direct accessibility it more than compensates for with a playful and effortless eclecticism, and a richness that rewards the listener with new layers and emotion each and every time. A prominent example being one of the albums highlights, 'Impossible Ride'. Initial listens present a beautifully atmospheric acoustic track, diverse in instrumentation yet cloaked in such amazing subtlety you barely realise how intricate it truly is until you hear it over again and look inside the layers Mason has crafted so lovingly. You cannot fail to be thoroughly absorbed by the collision of simplicity and experimentation exhibited, and yes that is a challenge!
'Kwangchow', on the other hand, seems to look back to Mason's days with the Beta Band. Superbly showcasing his unique vocal against the percussive style that typified his former group it will certainly stir the memories of BB fans, whilst progressing the sound by possessing that simple pop-hook the Beta Band often seemed unable, or unwilling to unleash.
In short, 'Black Gold' is an incredibly accomplished effort and move forward for Stephen Mason, soaring melody and intricacy stamping his name all over the inevitable "Best of 2006" lists. So what did he see wrong with it?
As he pleads for the listener to "Come with me/lets run away" in 'Rising Son', you can't help wondering if this is just an interim chapter in his career... and if so, what in the name of all that is musical can we expect next? Exciting, isnt it?!
An amazing collection of songs from the former Beta Band member Steve Mason. He has played about with various forms of music (mainly electronica) and tempos to produce a record that melts in the mouth and makes you want more. If you like husky male vocals, indie/electronica and original sounds then I think you'll enjoy this one.