Posts Tagged ‘Jarrod Gosling’

Let us be quite clear from the start: This is a minor masterpiece. The 2017 debut Cobalt Chapel album was already moody and strange, but the strangeness quotient is upped several notches here, such as with the nightmare circus atmosphere of ‘Cry A Spiral’ that leads into the apocalyptic dance of ‘It’s The End, The End’.

Conceptually, the album focuses on Yorkshire. The titular track is about the 1970 Krumlin music festival, which was a complete disaster due to bad, stormy weather. It was staged on a hillside in Yorkshire, and that is also the location of the cover photo; the orange synthetic blankets in the shot replicate those seen on old photos from the festival.

Cobalt Chapel are a duo consisting of Jarrod Gosling and Cecilia Fage. Their music combines psychedelia with folk and touches of kraut. It is inherently rhythmic and primarily keyboard driven – Jarrod is a collector of vintage synths and uses all of them here. But despite the amazingly layered analogue sound, the songs themselves sound like the future rather than the past, not least thanks to Cecilia’s stately vocals. Her voice is paradoxically both passionate and somehow slightly aloof.

Compared to earlier albums, ‘Orange Synthetic’ is also closer in style to the sound of Jarrod Gosling’s “prog” band Regal Worm, whose new album is expected later this year!

Orange Synthetic by Cobalt Chapel

After almost four years, Cobalt Chapel, the English duo formed by multi-instrumentalist Jarrod Gosling and Cecilia Fage on vocals, flute and clarinet, are back with “Orange Synthetic”. The first, self-titled album showed an exuberant band mixing strong folk writing with rich, progressive arrangements and a spacious, psychedelic sound.

Nominally, the album to be released on 29th January 2021 would be the second album, but it should be noted that between the debut and this second work we find an episode at the same time curious and fascinating. It’s “Variants”, an album in which the duo decides to revise/remix nine tracks from their debut, dilating them and increasing the psychedelia level to 11. The result is a full blown trip, which surprisingly is perhaps even more fascinating than the eponymous debut.

But let’s come to “Orange Synthetic” which, as the band state, is an album strongly influenced by the area where the band live, Yorkshire, and which “is inspired by the humanity, anecdotes and folklore of the region, the creatures and legends of the dramatic landscape surrounding them”. The name in particular is linked to a singular incident that took place there about fifty years earlier. It was a jazz festival that, following the devastation brought by a storm, saw many of the spectators risk their lives, while the organiser was forced to wander the moors for days before being found. A singular story that, in moving from hopeful joy to moments of terror, seems to express effectively, according to Fage and Gosling, the feeling of the end of the world that is beginning to spread in our time. Paradoxically, however, it is the duo’s sunniest album. 

That album sleeve looks like every day out I’ve had in the beautiful countryside that surrounds us in Yorkshire. Cobalt Chapel have made an entire album called ‘Orange Synthetic’ about the place – about its history, folklore, nature and landscape. What a place! And the perfect subject matter for their style of music, one which includes all kinds of organ variants plus mandolin and recorders all topped off with Cecelia Fage‘s cut-glass vocal. 

The trademarks that remain unchanged are the two pillars on which the band stands. First of all, Fage’s bewitching and soft vocals, often reinforced by choruses with a medieval and magical flavour, and secondly, Gosling’s vintage keyboards and assorted organs (he seems to have 19 of them!), which from time to time create atmospheres that are now gothic, now psychedelic, often capable of teleporting into the space-time of the Canterbury sound.

If this is the musical dough of which “Orange Synthetic” is made up, then there is also the glaze in which the album is drowned; I’m referring to that hauntological and spectral patina that, while playing on similar grounds to those of bands like Broadcast or like the bands of the Ghost Box universe (not least Beautify Junkyards of which we spoke recently), manages to sound very peculiar, thanks to the strong sonic identity that the duo undeniably exhibits.

The result is pop that looks vintage, yet modern at the same time. The hazy, impalpable sound blanket that envelops the duo’s songs creates an alienating, ambivalent effect. Cobalt Chapel’s music gives at the same time the impression of being close, but distant: suspended between the mirage of a band that emerged from an indefinite past and the band of the future imagined or dreamed by a boy of the 60s.

We’ve mentioned Broadcast, and it is the late Trish Keenan’s band that is the most direct reference for the undulating “The Sequel”, delightfully decorated with creaks, oblique melodies and Gosling’s retro harpsichord touch. With its fast-paced rhythm, Canterburian organ and repeated refrain, “Message to” sticks directly in the listener’s brain. Then it’s the turn of the surprising “A Father’s lament”, maybe the best track, or at least the most complete in its variegated complexity: a strange mix of polyphonic choirs with a folk flavour, blasts of horns, organ and synth swirls, but above all sudden and unusual beach boysian (those of “Pet Sounds”) interludes . “A dream within a dream” as Edgar Allan Poe would say.

The album continues with the hypnotic “Our Angel Polygon” and the mini trip with a free ending of “Cry A Spiral”. An oblique melody drawn by the organ introduces “It’s The end, the end”, which then evolves into a song with an almost tribal, imposing rhythm and an ever increasing lysergic rate up to the remarkable instrumental finale. The final triptych is textbook: first the enthralling psychedelic waltz of “Pretty Mire, Be My friend” and then the return of spectral folk and medieval polyphony in “E.B.”, a track that’s almost exclusively vocal.

The conclusion is the six-minute intricate and fascinating title track, which develops around a sinuous melody brushed by Cecilia Fage, imaginative breaks and Gosling’s instrumental interventions.

Psychedelic band featuring Cecilia Fage (Matt Berry & The Maypoles) and Jarrod Gosling (I Monster, Regal Worm). Based in Yorkshire.the upcoming album ‘Orange Synthetic’