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 albumOf 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.
- 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
- 10. Fall In Line