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NEW ALBUM: Colin Masson - Anvil of the North
#1
COLIN MASSON ~ Anvil of the North

[Image: 71-N7N-J3QL._SS500_.jpg]

The album starts off with “Green Acres” which has flavours of folk/prog/rock and a bit of a reggae-ish riff thrown in for good measure! I noticed that there was one of those on another of his albums actually - Isle of Eight, if I’m not mistaken. Quite an exciting opener – a foretaste of what’s in store – or maybe not because there’s some eclecticism here – quite a lot, in fact – “A Ship on the Desert” has some positively Spanish moments! Great energy – I feel at home with these sounds which to me are eminently listenable but complex enough to keep me going back for more. I really enjoy music that I can get to know.  
 
“Campeador” has a ceremonial, serious feel and also something of a Spanish infused sound which is hardly surprising given the title. It starts off as stately and sedate and becomes quite heavy and forceful – almost metallic, screaming guitars ‘n all, before tailing off again. I think Masson has an unequivocal signature and style – not easy to attain in this very competitive arena.
 
“Das Tal” is a track that was made having drawn inspiration from the work of composer Jeremy Soule as well as the Masson’s visits to Switzerland and the remote Urbachtal valley. It is a grand symphonic offering and I think it’s probably deeply personal. Maybe it’s me, but this one seems to pulse, in big waves, and I get it – just feeling like there could be smoother transitions between those waves, or quite possibly overthinking things which is something I’m really good at doing! (This is an example of Soule’s music which he references – this particular performance. It’s for the computer game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnXD6FRZtn0.)
 
“The Rochdale Coconut Dance” is an interlude – a short jig – wouldn’t be at all surprised if it marks the divide between ‘sides’ one and two (which I think is a construct still borne in mind by Mr Masson) - it's followed by “The World Is Just Outside Your Door” which makes me want to air conduct!  Another symphonic piece but not as reflective as “Das Tal” – quite decisive yet still has a few dreamy moments and is punctuated by Cathy Alexander’s recorder. It’s a great track and might be my favourite – at 8.43 minutes, a tasty helping indeed. We head off after that in a more folk oriented direction with “The Devil and the Tailor” which is sung by himself – it’s a ditty which I have already posted somewhere on the board before. The video was made by the maestro too – note the comment - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He1r34XuXUI.
 
Back to whimsy with “Forest of Dreams” – as is befitting the title, a flowing yet insistent composition with big rounds sounds. “Knocking on the Stone Door” has an interesting time signature and looping layers of gorgeousness – slightly medieval sounding which once again marries with the song title. It gets darker and heavier in the middle – another exciting build-up with that guitar front and centre yet not entirely dominating. I like that I can hear it easily but that it doesn’t overpower everything else. “The Merry Old Inn” is exactly what you might expect – a fairly brief companion piece to “The Devil and the Tailor”, sung this time by Cathy Alexander. 

The closer is titled “Broken Kingdom” - is that shades of Prokofiev I hear?? Not sure whether this is rant against current affairs on that distant (to me) island, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were! Powerful, angry and mournful. Phew!

My conclusion is that Colin Masson has once again acquitted himself very nicely thank you. The album is primarily instrumental with all instruments/synths by him, with the exception of the recorder, as aforementioned, and some piano; there’s punch, power, hard rock and dirty bass offset by lyrical moments and I feel something of an urgency in this one. I’m not sold on the penultimate track – find myself wondering whether it belongs in this collection, however, that is a minor pointlet and upon reflection – it does provide a light moment before, and a juxtaposition to, the finale, which is perhaps the intent – frivolity followed by uproar and outrage. In any event, I have ordered the CD which I eagerly await! Yay!!

I listened on Spotify – not sure if the track listing is correct but anyway – the order seems to work ok. Oh yes – I recommend turning up the volume – this should be played loud, IMHO.

https://open.spotify.com/album/5WkyaYTqcePLVvo2MejIn1

Website - http://colinmasson.co.uk/index.htm
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
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#2
Great review Ruby! You and I have similar tastes in music so I am going to buy this on your recommendation.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
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#3
(25-05-2019, 08:07)Jerome Wrote: Great review Ruby! You and I have similar tastes in music so I am going to buy this on your recommendation.

if its half as good as the three I already own it will be bloody good!
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#4
(25-05-2019, 08:07)Jerome Wrote: Great review Ruby! You and I have similar tastes in music so I am going to buy this on your recommendation.

Thanks. Yes we do. Hope you like it!
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
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#5
The CD arrived today - looking forward to a good listen!
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
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#6
Ok, so now I have listened to the CD of Anvil of the North (in the car). It’s sooo much better than with headphones, IMHO, although I probably need a new set – these are not wonderful and are decidedly well worn! Interesting since a lot of music seems to sound better WITH headphones. Anyway – it’s a fantastic listen – I love it, and the transitions that I mentioned earlier were hardly evident. I humbly eat my words. A talented individual, Mr Masson. Very well done.
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
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