Verve Crystal – Humboldt Been (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

41m1Bl6EvUL._SS500There is something wonderfully glacial about Verve Crystal. The songs are wilfully unhurried seeming to ooze and crawl forward rather than be driven by anything more urgent and anyone who opens an album with an opus clocking in at just under twelve minutes has got to be applauded. So already loving the way Humboldt Been approaches music, I dived into this 5 track offering.

And, as I expected, it is an attitude which seems through the music too. Unrestrained by fad or fashion, there are all sorts of music being bent to the artistic will. Structureless post-rock meets wigged out psychedelia, cavernous echos meet avant-garde exploration, Doorsian dystopian blues meets prog rock shenanigans… and it is brilliant. Not just in its musical belligerence, its will to neither pander to or predict what the listener is looking for but in just how free form and untethered everything is.

There is little point in running through the individual songs as this is a suite of musical statements that merge and mingle and are best dealt with as a whole, in effect forming one continual musical piece and bordering on that much maligned form, the concept album. But perhaps rather than being a concept album this is instead an album of concepts, though what those concepts are really is anyone’s guess, which in itself is another wonderfully freeing aspect of the music.

Music to relax too, music to contemplate, music to get stoned too? Yes, it’s all of those. Big, cinematic, wide-screen? Tick all of those boxes too. Left-field, futuristically retro, offbeat and restless? Again, all of the above. In fact it is fascinating how something so free form and seemingly directionless fits into so many places, ticks so many boxes and jumps across so many genres and purposes. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you. Rules are bad!

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