It’s Immaterial: House For Sale – UK – CD 
- Summer Rain
- Kind Words
- Just North of here
- Tell Me Why
- Up On The Roof
- The Gift Of Rain
- I Can’t Sleep
- In My Dreams
- How Can I Tell You
[…continued from last post]
The evanescent beauty of “Summer Rain” started the album on a wistful note with a rising string patch under which the crystalline synth loops replicated the feel of rain itself. The spacious vibe that Callum Malcolm dealt in was present in all of these songs. With airy arrangements that never overpowered, except through subtlety. Almost below the threshold of perception were curiously funky synth figures if we listened carefully. Long time China Crisis stalwart Mark Pythian guested here on keys and the vibe would not be out of place for those of a China Crisis persuasion. The subtle acoustic guitar got a chance to have some spotlight in the middle eight on this song of delicate remembrance.
“Kind Words” was a sly samba that proffered vocalist John Campbell in a surprising Lothario role singing a duet of embittered romantic fallout with Eva Peterson as the wronged woman [left with two kids] who upbraids the evasive Campbell role as he swings by [probably not in the best of intentions] to see what he can get away with as the lady sends him packing in spite of his perfunctory overtures of recompense. A surprising “too little, too late” scenario of a heel’s comeuppance for this normally prosaic band.
Then the album delivered a quintessential It’s Immaterial moment for the third song. “Just North of Here” began with scintillating strings and a tentative piano before the gentle rhythms began and Mr. Campbell dropped the listeners into a potentially dangerous scenario with agitated strangers [possibly given to fits] in a restaurant asking unanswerable, metaphysical questions. Specifically, “where’s heaven?”
Campbells’ classic matter-of-fact delivery was the sort of conversational, intimate performance that no one did better than this band. I loved how the narrator’s relating of this surprising event led to his extended reverie about a fishing trip where, indeed, he found as close to heaven as he’d ever known; the possible street person he had encountered in the restaurant now forgotten. A red herring of a song opening gambit as he waxed further eloquent on the wonder of that fishing trip that had, in retrospect, made such an impression on the narrator.
The gentle rhythm under the sustained strings and a three note sampled string hook. The song formed was a Mobius loop of longing and beauty that gently pulled the listener in to calm and reassure them that heaven was indeed attainable, if we opened ourselves to the possibilities. By the song’s end, the narrator was ready to leave the restaurant, put his boots on, and go north of town and just disappear…with the last word repeated twice on the fade out.
The abstract synth that sounded like a sampled horn, given an envelope that altered it’s attack and decay considerably, was a continual presence in the epic “Downriver.” The subtle beat of a tom hit and finger snaps grounded the verse structure of the song. The chorus had the tempo matched by a completely different rhythm programming as the song seemed to be woven from two different takes of the same song. The EQ and vibe of the verse being more spacious and abstract, with the chorus structure sounding more compressed. The deep synth bass that occasionally figured in the deep end of this river was eventually outlasted by that almost random sampled horn synth pulling us through the song gently.
Next: …Sleepless Nights + Yet More Rain