Album Reviews

Mostly Autumn – Storms Over Still Water

(Mostly Autumn) UK release date: 8 August 2005

Mostly Autumn don’t do things by halves. There are seven of them, for a start, and they produce music that fills every sound space available. So loud are they. Their sphere of influence is a who’s who of prog-rock, though less Pink Floyd than what is bandied around in their hype. They are more of the Yes, King Crimson, Jean Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield and early Genesis school.

True to these artists, Mostly Autumn take themselves rather seriously. They engineer meticulously produced, epic oceans of music that run very deep indeed, or so their admirers would say. Furthermore, the liner notes state Storms Over Still Water was ‘pre-produced at various wondrous locations’ before naming dramatic spots in the lake district and the highlands as where these technicalities took place. Inspiring or pretentious, you decide.

Their live show is equally overblown, with the seven of them up there, tangled forests of hair flying around and the two lady Autumns dressed in white and black respectively. Ying-yang. Or something.

Their concerts are a lot more entertaining than their latest release. On it, main songwriter Bryan Josh proves himself to be a fine lead guitarist but seems to be under the impression than all that is needed to create emotion is grand, sweeping chord changes and loud, anthemic choruses. This is fine, but his musical designs are simply not strong enough melodically, however much they are dressed up with an atmosphere of being in the hall of the goblin king. His formula works twice, on opener Out Of The Green Sky and Candle To The Sky, where, yes, they sound like Pink Floyd, circa Meddle.

Josh’s voice is slightly weak, but this deficiency is partly made up for by the vocals of fellow singer Heather Findlay. Her power and range would certainly have found favour at, for an example the band would surely approve of, Camelot. At best, such as on Heart Life, she is reminiscent of the great Sandy Denny, despite the odd lapse elsewhere into Stevie Nicks territory. Not that her current band doesn’t allow her talents the right climate to flourish, but a solo career may be something she might want to consider somewhere down the line.

There are some, frankly, misguided lyrics on show here. The End Of The World describes apocalyptic destruction in the wake of a meteor, and contains such lines as “10,000 miles of silver rock / hit the village green / taking out the duck pond, the cricket pitch, the washing line”. Maybe I’m nit-picking, but this sits a little uneasily with all the natural imagery and metaphysical pretensions. Perhaps this line betrays that they are, in fact, a joke band having a jolly time parodying the worst of The Moody Blues’ indulgences and fleecing ageing prog fans convinced their art is being kept alive. Or perhaps not.

This is sure to appeal to those who re-enact medieval battles and that disturbingly large proportion of young men who do that Warhammer thing. Otherwise, Mostly Autumn are generally a curiosity worthy of attention, but perhaps not this time.

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Mostly Autumn – Storms Over Still Water