SOURCE approaches this review with trepidation. This writer is a dyed-in-the-wool punk-loving free party raving rebel soul, albeit a middle aged one now, so the view that prog is the enemy is a deeply ingrained almost biblical-level commandment. Whilst knowing that the origins of Pink Floyd link to some pretty wild acid-drenched parties at Club UFO, we have never quite been able to stomach a whole album from start to finish, even though they have some undeniably stunning moments.
‘Terrapath’, however, begins gently with ‘Is That You?’ on a light jazzy guitar refrain from Tom Coyne, before some glacial synth sounds add to the mood. It almost sounds like a precocious young jazz band covering Goldie’s ‘Inner City Pressure’ and that is no bad thing. The song builds and the listener is suddenly enveloped in a crescendo that ends at the precise moment the realisation dawns: this is huge!
Then we get the muted mariachi guitar flourish that launches the huge romp of a single that is ‘Pressure’ and the epic propulsive jazz rock of ‘Modulator’ with its late section tempo changes and explosions over which floats Chloë Spence’s beautiful voice.
Then any remaining fears of proceedings becoming too much are crushed by ‘Its Not Real’ which rides an excellent Tony Allen-style grove thanks to the drumming skills of Louis Bradshaw.
The centerpiece of the album is ‘Dog’s Life’ with its killer heavy rock riff and funky bass from Bernardo Larisch. It also provides a moment to reflect on the contribution producer Nathan Ridley has made to the recording. His hauntingly evil-sounding backing vocals grab your attention as the song kicks off and flies away.
Again the sequencing quickly restores balance with the minimal prog folk of ‘Only When I’m Thinking’ and the almost crooner start of ‘Wander/Wonder’ that hides an excellent breakdown worthy of Led Zeppelin.
‘Insomniac’ puts urgent unsettling lyrics over the heavy waves and fluttering urgency. ‘G.Y.Drift’ could be the sound of Carlos Santana rocking out in the middle of a festival headline, before ‘Softly Speaking’ gives us a gentle lullaby with an air of Chinese folk music. Chloë’s soft vocal and piano allows her audience to breath out deeply, sending us back gently into the real world, refreshed by what has been a stunning ride.
It is also worth noting that the recording of the whole album has surprisingly minimal overdubs and studio trickery. It is a mostly live recording which demonstrates just how talented this band actually are. This was made clear at the Bella Union outstore album launch show at Alphabet when the band was joined on stage by Nathan Ridley on percussion and backing vocals. ‘Terrapath’ was played from start to finish, to a rapturous reception. Thanks to the excellent soundsystem at this reborn venue every note was heard with crystal clarity and savoured over a fine beer.
This is unquestionably a record savoured. It reveals new sounds and flavours with every listen. Do not be afraid. Turn the volume up and revel in the glory.
Listen and buy ‘Terrapath’ here