Careful It’s Tepid (2009)

– Antique Seeking Nuns

Third and final of three releases by this little-known, fine British quartet, consisting of: Joff Winks-guitar and vocals, Matt Baber-Fender Rhodes, synths and piano, Paul Mallyon-drums and Brad Waissman-bass. I was pointed in their direction by Steve Davis, Snooker champion and all around champion of progressive, prog music and he was right! “Right about what?”, you may ask. That they were band that managed to take some of the most quintessencially ‘British’ (and to my mind, the most charming) aspects of UK progressive rock (think the song stylings of Richard Sinclair with Caravan or Hatfield or early Robert Wyatt) and graft them onto a more contemporary sound that is perhaps a bit more avant-progressive in nature as well as including influences that have nothing to do with ‘progrock’ (Tortoise! Flaming Lips!, etc), all leavened by some Zappa-ish instrumental complexity and assuredness. What do you have? A total winner. If you want the big story of this band (why they released 3 EPs over a 5 year period and why they have now decided to call themselves “Sanguine Hum”…then THIS is the place, because the booklet has 3 pages of tiny type explaining why they have done a bunch of things that are completely silly in terms of career. But more importantly, you get some really, really great music. Highly recommended!

“This five track EP, the final release in the bands Triple Burst saga, features some of the very best examples of the Nuns highly progressive instrumental compositions. Over the course of 20 minutes Careful! It’s Tepid unleashes all manner of instrumental combinations. A nostalgic string quartet blends with childlike glockenspiel and chiming guitars in The Foulness! The Stench! Deranged drums and vibraphone manically dance around slide guitar and distorted bass in Dead Cheese, and wobbly synth textures cushion what sounds like a chorus of mandolins and guitars as strange film dialogue interrupts the proceedings in The Bearded Bag Lady. Careful! It’s Tepid is also framed at either end by two songs, Leave Us A Message and Ointment For Flies, songs that are as strange and alien as they are weirdly approachable, especially in the sky high vocal melody of opening track Leave Us A Message that pleads for contact with alien life, or the unsettlingly macabre and epic closer Ointment for Flies. Careful! It’s Tepid makes a fitting finale for the Triple Burst trilogy and the Antique Seeking Nuns in general before the quartet (Joff Winks, Matt Baber, Brad Waissman & Paul Mallyon) bring together all their disparate influences and elements of past and present projects under the new band name Sanguine Hum.

Steve Feigenbaum