Attercopus – Last Utterance
Release Date: 17/02/23
Running Time: 60:14
Review by Dark Juan
It is well known that Dark Juan is a fan of extremity in all its forms, be it musically, sexually or just how much drugs and booze I can cram into the massive gap where my soul should be but it is not quite so well known that Dark Juan also has an expansive and broad musical taste that encompasses everything from baroque Classical to the fastest, most aggressive Metal there is. It is also fairly unknown that I am more than partial to a bit of Progressive Rock. Yes, Dark Juan likes men in breeches spinning round playing flutes and extended jams where the music goes exploring dimly lit hinterlands full of psychedelic swirling patterns and scantily-clad elf women, beckoning Dark Juan to come forward and taste the pleasures of their flesh and drink from their potions of desire, with Dark Juan immediately forging a path through the undergrowth to their fairy glen where there are promises of fleshly pleasures hitherto untasted by mortal men…
Sorry. I really shouldn’t use my imagination when I am writing a (supposedly) record review. This missive is another of the mighty and puissant Simon “Do It, Or Taste My Steel Tipped Cat O’ Nine Tails, Ratboy” Black’s wild card reviews, whereupon the wrangler of everyone else’s writing assigns an underground or British band to us at random to get the writers out of their comfort zones and to get some newer or do-it-yourself bands some proper recognition. Hence, today’s spinning disc of doom upon the Platter of Splatter ™ is “Last Utterance” by South Wales-based bards Attercopus.
Opening with ‘Caravan’ and a gentle, flute-led intro and Eastern sounding wah and phaser-soaked guitar, Attercopus take their time building up a head of steam before unleashing a riff of such Sabbathian majesty Tony Iommi was running screaming for the phone to call his lawyer but this is where the Sabbath influence ends and the Space Rock takes over. And the Prog… Rob Harrison tootling his flute like his life depends on it in the central part of the song as well as doubling up with some expansive guitar work – imagine, if you will Black Sabbath kidnapping Hawkwind and them forcing Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull to fight in a pit to the death, clad only in sheer loincloths, their oiled torsos gleaming and rippling in the shaft of sunlight illuminating the pit from a giant skylight as they attack and clasp each other as they wrestle for dominance and dominion over the other…
Good grief. What the fuck is wrong with me today?
‘Chemical Pigs’ sees Rob breaking out the squawky sex horn which adds a serious Hawkwind vibe to the proceedings on this spiky, razor-edged song which successfully moulds Prog, Sludge and Space Rock together in a wholly satisfying fashion – exemplary musicianship from the whole band on this song (Lloyd Stratford on bass and Martin Jones on drums) as they take us on an elongated exploration of the universe on the middle eight (more like a middle sixty-four on this song) that never dips into self-indulgent noodling and manages to remain purposeful and tense. ‘LV-246’ (not sure whether that’s supposed to be LV-426, Alien xenomorph fans!) has an almost Jazzy section but is generally one of the beefier songs on the record – think the Garage Rock feel of ‘Night Of The Hawks’ by Hawkwind and Sabbath’s ‘Fairies Wear Boots’, amalgamated and sent shambling into the ether. The guitar and bass interplay on this song is pretty fucking special and the soloing is tasty as fuck throughout. Rob’s voice is engaging and likeable if not particularly memorable and it fits the music well, but this is a minor criticism considering the annoyingly talented bastard can toot his flute (cheeky!) like the incomparable Alia O’ Brien, can drop panties at a hundred yards with the squawky sex horn and plays the guitar as well, thereby taking care of all the panties in a half-mile radius. He’s nearly as bad as Lisa Mann for awesome musician-ness. Arsehole. I hate him. And there are key and tempo changes all over the fucking place and it’s awesome because it all has about four hundred key riffs in the song and must have been a right bastard to write and remember… even if it has one of the longest drawn out endings ever, not unlike one of Dark Juan’s orgasms…
‘Space Garden’ starts off with a super-stoned Prog bent, absolutely decides it is staying exactly where it is and having all the snacks and really references the influence of Gentle Giant and the more hippy-dippy moments of Hawkwind, all mad phaser and wah-wah on the guitar, whizzy and whooshing electronics and the sax (I will never stop calling it the squawky sex horn so don’t even test me) being the lead instrument and being all beguiling and shit, like it is beckoning you into the title of the song. Lloyd Stratford goes absolutely fucking barmy on his bass on this one, playing almost like it is a lead guitar and flitting up and down the fretboard flaying his fingers like a man possessed. All this underpins a languid and almost liquid vocal, honeyed and charming, and it is a fucking long, relaxed jam lasting 12 minutes or so – again, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and keeps the listener charmed throughout. This is a measure of high-quality songwriting and really fucking terrific musicianship. Oh, and the intro on ‘Astral Projection’ had me thinking I was listening to ‘Silver Machine’ until the monstrous central riff kicked in and there’s another riff in the bridge that reminded me briefly of fucking Swedish Rap-Metal rapscallions Clawfinger (Remember them? ‘Warfair’ being the song) at one point. Now THAT is an esoteric fucking influence for a Space Rock combo and no mistake…
Criticisms, for I am a critic – The record has a curiously artificial-sounding production that takes some of the warmth from the music and makes it almost sound like parts of it are sequenced rather than played. Dark Juan feels that this record should have had a more organic sound to better fit the music. I also have issues with the sound of the drums – again, there is clarity and everything is easily listenable, but they sound like poor Martin Jones is using Tupperware for a snare drum and there is no resonance at all on the bass drum, which means there is an unpalatable lack of richness that their music undeniably deserves. But that’s it for criticism – I’m not sure whether the sound of the album was a conscious choice or just the limitations of equipment… Otherwise this is a fucking masterclass in LSD-fuelled psychedelic madness from opening flute to closing reverberation. The musicianship of the band is absolutely breathtaking, their compositions and songwriting flawless and their execution brilliant. It’s just the production job I have a problem with. Da iawn, boyos! Da iawn…
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (System Sgorio Gwaed Splatter Juan Tywyll Patent – I’m not convinced by your skill at Welsh, Google Translate) awards Attercopus 8/10 for a flawed gem of an album marred only by the lifeless sound of the production which robs the album of some of its considerable charm.
02. Chemical Pigs
03. LV-246 (I am not sure whether this is a typo on my EPK because the planet that Hadley’s Hope colony was on is LV-426 – Science Fiction Editor/ Spod. Yeah, it’s me…)
04. Space Garden
05. Astral Projection
Rob Harrison – Guitar, vocals, flute and sax
Lloyd Stratford – Bass
Martin Jones – Drums
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