Sun Structures (Deluxe Edition)
Now of all the younger outfits from England, this Midlands four-piece (from Kettering) have exactly the right mix of history and exploration, of musical skill and raw excitement. This well-crafted collection of psychedelic pop/rock songs makes for a fine stage show – I have seen them three times and each time they sound better – and recordings that stand repeated play.
This special edition of their debut album includes a second disc of variants and remixes of the core album cuts and makes a rather splendid purchase. The mysterious vibe is set by the cover art – here presented with daylight and dusk sky colourings, same picture – depicting the band members standing by an eccentric building in Kettering. The tonic palate embraces thundering and stealthy drum patterns, (mostly) relaxed and emphatic basslines, other-worldly and in turns earthy keys and a weave of guitars which to great occasional effect include electric Danelectro 12-string work. The latter makes crowd favourite ‘Shelter Song’ a punchy pop anthem that lodges in the brain, for keeps.
In a live setting – and I last saw them at Concorde 2 down on the South Coast, where the show attendees showed their deep love for the ensemble – the group are at pains to credit not only their opening acts but all the technical crew and their light show associates, who use vivid colour back projection and oil wheels to create a rolling swirl of tones and effects. All of which complements the music, in the style of the original San Francisco hippie rock bands ; at a recent Barbican Centre show in London the Sun Ra Arkestra ( still touring the world many years after their leader’s passing ) used the Pink Floyd light show to set up a 180 degrees panorama of pyramids and flying creatures…
Temples have a hatful of hypnotic songs that they deliver with force, finesse and above all playfulness. The pounding title track has steady organ and a tumbling verse with staccato guitar runs here and gone in a flash ; ‘The GoldenThrone’ centres on a stately melody and soft vocal delivery over warm chord changes and again that air of spacey mystery. A quick aside – Temples music makes no sense in bright sunlight, it is the sound of shadows and mist..
A rickety tempo kicks off ‘Keep In The Dark’, almost a GlamRock era but the chorale has an almost Russian tinge; ‘Mesmerise’ is a real winner and often saved for an encore, all light and shade and a mix of rush and relaxation, the group’s strong suit. ‘Move With the Season’ could be a Gene Clark song..it’s that haunting. ‘A Question Isn’t Answered’ makes a crowd clap along to the brisk pattern whilst the instrumentation kicks in, making it an astral boogie and so very catchy. Here is where they verge upon the trance sound that Rachid Taha and his wonderful band do so well.
‘Test of Time’ is busy and evokes Barratt-Floyd; whilst ‘Sand Dance’ is carefully picked out and layered. Closer ‘Fragment’s Light’ is almost medieval in timbre and delicately performed.
The other versions on the second disc involve the chaps from Beyond The Wizards Sleeve and they have gone for a continuous flow of sound, evolving into different ambiences and atmospheres and textures…yes, it’s a trip, even without the stimulants avoided by your scribe on a lifelong basis.
Temples new album Sun Structures and Sun Structures (Deluxe Edition) are both out now on Heavenly Recordings
For more information visit: www.templestheband.com