When a friend slaps something on the turntable accompanied by the words “I think you might like this” it can go either way. Rarely indifferent, you are about to think, you’re kidding me, what makes you think I’d give this garbage the time of day. On the other hand, your life may be just about to change.
I suppose I am a bit too long in the tooth for The Soundcarriers’ Harmonium to change me, but it sure has brightened up my week and may do so long into the summer.
What we have is a quartet of musicians who appear to have cobbled together an array of instruments in a room of their own and set about crafting songs of exquisite melodic beauty in a dreamy, psychedelic vein with boy and girl vocal harmonies. All done via anaologue technology to boot (top marks in my book). The CD package gives little away in terms of detail, but their website lets light in on their history and approach to music, citing the orchestration of John Barry and the improvisation of Can as influences among a wealth of disparate jazz, acid folk, soundtrack and easy listening. The Free Design are also an obvious and acknowledged touchstone.
Intriguingly, all the compositions are credited to drummer Adam Cann and bassist Paul Isherwood. Leonore Wheatley is pictured at the keys and obviously provides the female voice, with Dorian Conway on guitar. I am unsure as to which of the men also sing.
The track that my pal played me was Caught by the Sun, reminiscent of I See You, a great cut on The Byrds’ influential Fifth Dimension album. Sixteen tracks and an hour of wonderful listening. This is such a well put together album that it forms a single suite, no song sounding out of place, with maybe one or two standing slightly prouder of the rest (Time Will Come and Calling Me perhaps).
The band play at the Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons in August alongside Jarvis Cocker, British Sea Power and Roky Erickson.
Heck, it’s even available on 180gramme double vinyl, in a limited edition. You can check out three tracks on their myspace or this single released a couple of years ago (not on the new album).
Photo credit: Craig Mulcahy