Monday, 30 December 2013

Bulbs - On

Hailing from Liverpool, Bulbs released their debut album On roughly six months ago. I'm only writing about it now as it slipped through the net at the time, and I have become captivated by its individualistic stance. Yes, it is most certainly progressive, melding sci-fi prog, baggy electronic dance moves, classical acoustic wizardry, sound samples, math rock, and much more to produce a refreshing instrumental tour de force.

Neil Campbell is a highly talented classical guitarist, who, with the aid of loops, delay, and other knobs and switches weaves together layers of entrancing sound, the track Lantra being a fine example. Neil also plays the good ol' electric guitar with aplomb, have no fear.

Neil's other projects and his band The Neil Campbell Collective provide Bulbs with bassist Andy Maslivec. Drummer Joey Zeb has his roots in what is described in the blurb as "prog dub" and also plays with prog band Gorp and "dub hop" group The Corinthians. The electronics are brought to the table by Marty Snape, who should be the Mad Professor of the band with a name like that!

This esoteric combination of singular talents produce a fairly unique sound that sits somewhere between spacerock, rock-dance crossover, and angular prog. That latter description suits the fierce charge through the cosmos that is Future Cities, whereas the spacerock is to the fore on Frankincensed, which has hints of Magazine and very early Porcupine Tree chucked into the groove blender for good measure.

Always powered along by Andy's melodic bass runs and Joey dextrous drumming, if these songs don't get you tapping your feet, they've fallen off.

USA does a funky shimmy around an odd time signature, nailed again by the rhythm section, slower funky moves emerge on A Very Good Friday, and Neil's layered classical guitar gets another outing on the understated but marvellous album closer 3572 Off.

Unfortunately this album is not high profile enough in the sometimes insular world of Brit-prog to make many End of Year lists, which is a shame as it is musically accomplished, accessible, and, most importantly, cliché free. No lesser personage than Jon Anderson gives On the Accrington thumbs-up on the Burning Shed site; "wild and wonderful music" he calls it, and he ain't wrong.

1. Lament (1:55)
2. Frankincensed (4:47)
3. Majestic (5:56)
4. Injusa (4:03)
5. Illuminate (6:25)
6. USA (2:04)
7. Lantra (3:57)
8. They Control The Weather (5:29)
9. Switch (2:49)
10. Future Cities (4:49)
11. A Very Good Friday (4:38)
12. 3572 Off (5:52)

Line up:
Joey Zeb - drums
Andy Maslivec - bass
Neil Campbell - guitar
Marty Snape - electronics

Buy this at Burning Shed

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