THESE NEW PURITANS – Hidden (Angular Recordings)

These New Puritans are the sort of band that you always mean to listen to and then never get around to it. I meant to give them a try when their first album ‘Beat Pyramid’ came out a couple of years ago, but then other things came up and the opportunity slipped by. Well, don’t make the same mistake with this one – you really need to put some time aside to listen to this album, and once you have heard it then you can set up a schedule to give it regular hearings. Not having heard ‘Beat Pyramid’ I can’t really compare this music to what they were making before, but I can pretty much guarantee that it was nothing like this or I would have heard major rumblings on the blogs. Firstly you have to put aside any preconceptions that you might have about the band, coming to it completely fresh, and when you are ready then drop the needle onto ‘Time Xone’ and be blown away by the sounds. ‘Time Xone’ itself is a brooding orchestral instrumental, acting as an overture for first single ‘We Want War’. Thudding drums and sprinkles of keyboards herald this heavily rhythmic track, swamped as it is in innovative percussion such as knives being unsheathed and digitalised tribal handclaps. A choir is added towards the end, and the track closes with some atmospheric woodwind, but even though you can appreciate that this is an astounding piece of music you know it will never hit the charts. The tribal drums stay on for ‘Three Thousand’, which has a growling vocal from Jack Barnett, while ‘Hologram’ is the closest thing yet to a ‘proper’ indie song, although its discordant piano and Jack’s soaring vocal raise it above the ordinary. ‘Attack Music’ is well named, with the thundering rhythms being underpinned by the sound of a sword being unsheathed, and once again the main instruments are bassoon and oboe. The lyrics are aggressively chanted over the relentless drumming, and its brooding power emanates through every note. ‘Orion’ adds a celestial choir to the staccato percussion, and ‘Canticle’ is a gentle woodwind instrumental. The military drumming is at its peak on ‘Drum Courts – Where Corals Lie’, which also incorporates a reprise of ‘Attack Music’ in amongst its mix of funereal death march and frenetic tub-thumping. ‘White Chords’ is another attempt at a more recognisable indie song, with the drums toned down a fraction, and even the hint of a chorus. ‘5’ closes the album with another woodwind, brass and choir instrumental, but this time it is beautiful, swooping piece of music, with touches of Philip Glass in the repetitive xylophone motif. While I will be the first to admit that this album is a challenging listen, I found it absolutely stunning, and would wager that even if you don’t like it, you will never have heard anything like it before. I really hope that the band get due recognition for producing this amazing collection of songs, but in the end it is up to the record buying public, who are notoriously conservative in their tastes, so it may end up as a delicious little secret shared amongst those of us who are prepared to take a risk.

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