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Purson – The Circle and the Blue Door

Rise Above

Purson - The Circle And The Blue  DoorPurson’s first album has been long awaited in some quarters. After the sell out limited release of their first single “Rocking Horse” and support slots for both Electric Wizard and Comus there’s been something of a buzz about this band and this LP doesn’t disappoint.

“Wake up Sleepy Head” is a beautiful acoustic opener with lush-sounding Mellotron and owes much to the lineage of ’70s psychedelic folk such as Mellow Candle and Trees. Rosalie Cunningham’s vocals are crystal clear and stirring during this opening mournful lament. The segues nicely into “The Contract,” a big, almost Prog meets Sabbath number, where Barnaby Maddick’s big Chris Squire-sounding bass riff underpins the verse that has Wakemanesque Mellotron drifting eerily underneath. The chorus has the big hook as the track powerhouses along to some wonderful flanged lead guitar – magnificent. “Spiderwood Farm” was one of the standout tracks when I saw them live and here the band jump into it with joyous abandon. From its opening drum pattern played by Jamie Gomez Arellano to the big riff by George Hudson, we get an oddly ’60s Beatles meets Zeppelin mash up that knocks on the door of Hammer Horror, which just works and will have you humming for days.

“Sailor’s Wife Lament” is melancholy folk rocker that’s as much Sandy Denny as it is All About Eve. It is song storytelling that mixes psychedelic rhythms from almost a Eighties standpoint with some lovely, subtle lead organ from Sam Shove. The second single from the album is “Leaning on a Bear,” a Deep Purple-sounding full ahead rocker with a solid rhythm that will take you into incense filled bedrooms and patchouli soaked clothes; it’s like the ’70s are here again. “Tempest and the Tide” has some moving acoustic guitar while organ and Mellotron build up – the atmosphere that could be compared to Nursery Cryme era Genesis at points, mainly because it has a quintessential English countryside vibe that carries throughout the track – and another wonderful vocal from Rosalie.

“Mavericks and Mystics” has a glam Sweet-type stomp about it, but one that is tainted by the darkness of Black Sabbath or early Budgie. The organ sound could have come straight off of an Iron Butterfly album and soaks the song in an evil choir that could have come from the soundtrack to some Amicus or Jean Rollin film. It’s here that I also have to point out that some of the tracks finish with interesting Syd Barrett Pink Floyd psychedelic flourishes that certainly add a quirky quality to the album. Next up is “Well Spoiled Machine,” which ups the Prog factor with an opening ELP-sounding organ riff before the vocals come in to carry the main melody. The chorus takes into a repetitive chant that moves with the key changes; then, via some feedback echoed guitar we fall back towards the main riff. The middle eight is a phased trip out that wouldn’t sound out of place on a ’67 era Beatles disc.

“Sapphire Ward” lurches in to 70’s heavy rock with a solid riff that gives the track a sense of forward momentum and an overall strong performance from the band. The song drifts down into a subtle middle before some tremendous flanged/phased lead guitar takes over and the track builds again. “Rocking Horse” is next with its almost “Lucy in the Sky”-sounding keyboards that seems to take us back into childhood memories. And come on – any song that mentions EtchaSketch has to be a winner. The song is both delicate and powerful at the same time; it’s almost a conjuration of a drifting Alice in Wonderland world where both beauty and darkness dwell in the same objects. The final track is “Tragic Catastrophe,” with is melancholic opening where Mellotron and guitar create a sad downbeat sound. Organ chords begin to chop more for the chorus, but it’s the verses here that are the most haunting and understated, like a pared back version of very early Yes. Its “la..la,la…’ vocal ending has probably more in common with Ziggy-era David Bowie like “Star Man,” though.

The Circle and the Blue Door is certainly one of the strongest and most exciting début albums I’ve heard for quite some time. The quality of the songs and arrangements are all exceedingly high and its execution is faultless. The album never meanders and you want to sit a listen to the songs rather than put on the album and wander off to do housework, etc. These are songs that demand your attention and want you to immerse yourself into their stories and atmospheres. This album is as much about colourful wonderlands as it is about the wildwood and the moon creeping through the trees. So once you enter the Blue Door, you are transported into another world that is well worth staying in for 45 minutes.

-Gary Parsons-

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