Album review by Joe Coventry
New for 2015 and right on the heels of his last CD, the abstract Tabula Rasa Suite, Neil Campbell is back with eMErgence, an existential expedition through time, space and life. So what do we get for joining in on the trip?
The man featured on the CD cover is striking in red; a confident guitarist on top of his trade. Inside there are pictures of the band as young kids, the leader playing in a space suit. Influential and important to the tracks that follow? Definitely.
Where to begin then? Morphogenetic is seven minutes long, a mutating mitosis of a piece. To the accompaniment of siren voices, out of the primordial swamp of life comes music that will transcend childhood and beyond, affirming the way forward. After a seven second silence this transmogrifies into MC² (not Einstein’s famous mc²). Here the music is a Kraftwerk-like beating along the autobahn, its cocksure orgasmic stroke hinting at pastures new.
Private Collection 1&2 precede track 5, Teilhard de Chardin. No 1 has hints of maracas and Spanish guitar above the drums and some haunting angelic female voice-over. No 2 has an electronic beat; think otherworldly space flight timelessness, and you are there.
The journey that lands on the epicentre of track 5 is a reflective, contemplative, instrumental, searching for enlightenment. The cleric and palaeontologist Teilhard de Chardin is primarily credited with the synthesis of theology and science, a construct which did not go down too well with the Catholic Church. Here though it provides a soft landing for the ‘ME’ in the album title.
Private Collection No 3 is outward bound again charging bravely into another universe, the keyboard emanating gravity free pulses while the drums/cymbals drive the music on its way. No 4, guitar and keys to the fore, has the vocals straining into ominous territory – a portent of what?
The miasma of Fields Within Fields follows, a multi-dimensional layered and chasing all-in from the band, eventually separating out to a steady state finish. The journey climaxes with the 4 minute 21 second, E = . This features slow guitar, gently disappearing into a receding gypsy caravan-like epiphany, and onwards to the next phase of muse driven ether.
This is an album which grows on you the more you listen to it. There are influences of prog rock and jazz fusion, along with some abstract electronics from Marty Snape that ensure the female voices do not sidetrack the evolving search.
The ‘ME’ in all of us is travelling on a parallel journey to Campbell’s as we too evolve. It is his good fortune that he is able to express his version of events with the talented line-up on these nine tracks.