Friday, November 26, 2021

Prog on the Tyne

Good news for all those of you who’ve been unable to sleep wondering what would happen if one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary British music were to join forces with a bunch of Finnish prog-metal oddballs fluent in a language of their own creation to record seven songs named after plants that touch on everything from woolly rhinoceroses, the myth of Midas and the ghosts of the recently departed at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. The answer is Henki, and it's quite wonderful.

Aforementioned oddballs Circle function very much as a backing band, allowing Dawson’s unmistakeable Geordie falsetto to take centre stage and lending weight, power and depth to his odd tales. Their influence and input get gradually more pronounced as the album progresses from atmospheric folk ('Cooksonia'), through jazzy meanderings ('Silphium') and sprightly power pop and duelling foot-on-monitor guitars ('Methuselah'), before ending up at a baroque System Of A Down ('Pitcher').

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Henki, given all of the above, is that it’s neither a bizarre curiosity nor an alienatingly eccentric mess, but brilliantly realised and (occasionally) deceptively touching.

(An edited version of this review has been published on the Buzz website.)

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