Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review of "Of This & Other Worlds" by Hidden Masters

Buy this album
(link available August 6th)

1. She Broke the Clock of the Long Now
2. Into the Night Sky
3. Perfume
4. See You in the Dark
5. Last Days of the Sun
6. There Are More Things
7. Nobody Knows That We're Here
8. Like Candy
9. Grey Walls Grey
10. Fall in Line

Hidden Masters. Three men, three entirely different entities…. the sharply attired, smooth voiced, fireball guitarist David Addison (who would certainly have been at home in Joe Meek's back room), wild haired psychedelic bassist Alasdair C Mitchell and behemoth singing drummer John Nicol. This most energetic of musical units concoct a truly mind bending miz-maze of cleverly constructed, lightly spiced musical escapades that somehow embraces Norman Petty Studio productions and the various tones and sub-genres of the Elektra and Vertigo bands in one fell swoop. Honest. What make this trio so special beyond their exemplary musicianship and singing is their utterly daring free form grasp of genre breaking. And some think it could never be done. Poo-ee! Dave can veer from Johnny Kidd & The Pirates styled rock 'n' roll to searing Avalon Ballroom acid-rock into full blown progressive rock time signatures that moves from folk and classical into proto-metal and back again. Call it excessive if you will, but it works and even at its most complex it's never over blown.

When witnessing the Masters in the live arena it is always of interest to see what the audience make of three gentle fellows who can sing like The Association and alternatively rock like bastards. Dave with his Robert Frippish meets Buddy Holly speccy appearance although every inch the anti rock star mixes in droll humour with some nifty foot moves as he casts knowing glances at the first bemused crowd. It's a presence you can't quite put your finger on. Long haired and bearded bassist Alasdair in boating blazer, polo neck, amulet, flares and zipper boots adds a venerable UFO Club touch to match the constant psychedelic flourishes whilst laid back grizzly man John props up the show with both manic and restrained drumming and further stellar vocal support. There isn't another trio like it. Their differing personalities and demeanor almost seem at odds with each other but work, like a dream pop group should. There's something quintessentially British and eccentric about the whole premise, almost Dr Who-ish in their off kilter time travel and intellect.

Signing with Rise Above is definitely the right home for the musical visionaries who with their debut album Of This & Other Worlds cover so many of the musical flavours favoured by the label and a whole lot more. 'Perfume' recalls a young Julian Cope doing his Jim Morrison impersonation fronting an all analogue and further steeped in '60s US psych Teardrop Explodes, 'Into The Night Sky' has something of Arthur Lee experimenting with country-rock and Black Sabbath about it, 'Last Days Of The Sun' could well be by the most talented '60s garage band making a diversion into classically tinged, psychedelic pop and 'There Are More Things'' blend of Mel Torme jazz crooning, mambo rhythms and barber shop vocalising sounds like the sort of fevered technicoloured musical dream interlude you would only expect to hear in vintage Disney feature Dumbo. 'Like Candy' toys with ancient American folk in the same way as acid-fried hippies The Charlatans whilst 'Fall In Line' could very well have featured in a trip scene from an old AIP drugsploitation flick, urgent riffing and madrigal harmonies one minute, paranoid warning vocals the next… Strawberry Alarmclock, Clear Light…. and the odd Who-ism. Perfect.

Hidden Masters innate grasp of music, emotion, suspense and storytelling; how to build and build and never be afraid of derring-do; of when to not mix two streams of music together that shouldn't and to ramp up the amps to 11 whenever needed is something no other band is doing or could attempt to do. They are certainly a very impressive band to arrive this late in the musical genesis of the rock industry. So far out, they're in. So mixed up, they're right!

Jon 'Mojo' Mills, April 2013.


Their first 7", 'Nobody Knows That We're Here' was described by SHINDIG!magazine as "the most important psych-pop '45 to come out of these fair isles for the past 30-something years".

Debut album,Of This and Other Worlds is a true revelation. Defying genre imprisonment of any kind, Hidden Masters have ingeniously created their own world of mindbending musical ecclecticism, avoiding any notions of pastiche. Whilst there is a strong leaning towards 60's pop and psych moves, the overall vibe is one that is vital, fresh and visionary.

Since their emergence at the turn of the decade, Glasgow-based trio Hidden Masters have been catching ears and turning heads with their dynamic ensemble sound, lush three-part vocal harmonies and a highly original and idiosyncratic fusion of musical styles, running the gauntlet from Rock'n'Roll to pop, West Coast Psych rock to Gospel and Folk to mind melting Vertigo-era prog, often all within one song, and positively aglow with melody, movement and imagination.

Their electrifying live shows offer the audience a one-stop intravenous blast of hedonistic joy, involving carnal flailing of limbs, euphoric wow-impulse neural stimulation and unprecedented levels of perspiration.

An incredible old school psychedelic sound starts this album of right with “She Broke the Clock of the Long Now.” It has extremely catchy riffs and grooves and great soft vocals. These guys may be mellow but it’s hard not to like their style. “Into the Night Sky” is a really chilled out track, with kind of progressive a feeling with the mix of heavier rock bit and mellower bits. The organ on this track was nice and I like the end of this track, it has really interesting combination of doom metal and obscene riffs. The next track, “Perfume,” had some awesome riffs and keyboards, with faster paced and slower parts. This track is interesting as it’s hard to follow. The guitar and bass on “See You in the Dark” had a very catchy flow to them. It felt like this track belonged at the beach the way it sounded. The vocals are great with the accompanying of the backing vocals as well. A definitely nostalgic track is “Last Days of the Sun,” going back to the days of when psychedelic rock first began. It’s a stellar track, it makes you want to wear hippy clothes and smoke marijuana like it was legal.

The drum and bass sounded great at the beginning of “There Are More Things.” When the guitar joins it just sounds so amazing. It’s quite the groovy track. The rhythms on “Nobody Knows That We're Here” are great, with quicker riffs and mellow breaks. The keyboard really added to how badass this track is and the vocals had a really enjoyable flow to them as well. “Like Candy” has sweet acoustic guitar on it, with equally sweet vocals as well, sweet, like candy. This track is all about the catchy feel as the whole track is memorable with the fun feel it brings. The organ and guitar make “Grey Walls Grey,” with the entertaining to listen to bass as well. Some of the riffs on this were so awesome and the acoustic part is great as well. An excellent track to end the album is “Fall in Line” with groovy bass lines and guitar plucks, as well as catchy riffs, and with a bit of keyboard here and there.

Before this album, I’ve never heard of Hidden Masters and I was blown away. They have a psychedelic rock style that I haven’t heard in a while. The only thing that comes anywhere close is “17th Street” by Hammers of Misfortune. Hidden Masters do well to provide you a feeling that makes you feel as if you are in the 70s and it is very enjoyable. You should definitely pick this up, as it is something everyone can enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment