In this site’s pursuit of the full range of independent music around Cambridge I’m not sure how this one slipped by, but better late than never!
Sound Menagerie are the vocals of Abi Parker and the songs and guitar/bass of Steven C Wilson, accompanied on this album by a range of guest musicians. It is the follow up to ‘Far Or Through’, released in 2011. They describe their sound as Alternative/Dream Pop and they have plans to perform live with a band at some point.
I could be down the front of the venue for that, or wistfully considering it from further away as the textures of voice and varied instrumentation blend into a timeless concoction. ‘Smile in The Sky’, the opening track is a jaunty piano driven delight, ‘Stay With Me’ an inviting mixture of acoustic yearning. The title track is a darker affair and echoes the multiple coloured images of clocks and towers on the album cover. Sinister waltz ‘Cat In The Mirror’ ends with haunting sound effects leading into intricate up-tempo love song ‘Colour Of The Rose’. ‘The Silver Tree’ is a lovely brittle folk song, especially in the first minute before the main band comes in and takes it in another direction.
Taking us back most obviously to heady late 60s summer days is the restless ‘Agatha Jones’ and especially one of the strongest tracks on the collection ‘Penny Farthing’, possibly a homage to their love of Syd Barrett and his ‘Bike’ and many of the other influences from Pink Floyd’s debut album.
The album ‘clocks’ in at 52 minutes of enigmatic and carefully crafted songs, plenty to get lost in on a summer afternoon or a late evening…