Devour Ensemble

[The Moon's Bright 3rd sleeve]"The Moon's Bright 3rd" (EP, 2001)

Surreal Estate

For a first release, this five-track EP sounds surprisingly mature. The one-and-a-half-minute instrumental intro to the first (title) track fuses military snares, violins, bass, guitar and synths into a darkly epic and slightly gothic prologue. Then Anthony Cook's angsty vocals kick in and I'm immediately transported back to some pretty unpleasant memories of 70s prog-rock. However, once past the initial shock, what follows in a distinctively rich cauldron of sound that blends disparate styles into an almost unique dark folk sound.

My curiosity well-tweaked, I delve deeper into the packaging and notice the references to 'deconstructionist pioneer' poet e.e. cummings and the Lithuanian Poetry Web Page. I see too the band photos of beret-wearing, goatee-bearded, waistcoat-attired individuals and cannot make up my mind if this is pretentious or slightly self-deprecating. I suspect the former. Yet there's no denying the talent that Cook and co-creator Michael Bridges bring to Devour Ensemble (a variety of guests help fulfil the description). However, it doesn't do much for me and little I suspect for most of you reading this.

Still, the minimal instrumental Unter den Linden built around a morose cello and violin goes down much better, sounding like a score to Something Wicked This Way Comes. They cite Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Swans as influences - the results are, at least, somewhat original. 6/10

Rob Dyer

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