Now We have Light is Oxford band Sanguine Hum’s third album, and the follow up to 2013’s The Weight of The World.
Now We have Light expands on the sound and themes of the previous album, but takes things a step further, with a concept based double album. I’ll leave you to discover the concept when you explore the CD (look into my eyes, buy the CD).
Desolation Song sets the scene, introducing the main character in the concept. Some beautifully layered textures and solo lines from guitarist/vocalist Joff Winks, plus an array of tempo changes ensure that this album will appeal to fans of Pink Floyd and Steven Wilson.
“It’s basically a tale, the telling of a story…”
The gently pastoral backdrop of Drastic Attic leads into the psychedelia of Getting Warmer, with its bubbling synths and distant bells courtesy of keyboardist Matt Baber.
Out of Mind is a perfect example of the complexity to the arrangements and performances on Now We have Light. A subtle break-down and then build-up takes place at the songs mid-point, with the rhythm section of bassist Brad Waissman and (current no-man / Tim Bowness / Henry Fool drummer) Andrew Booker really adding to the mood and drive of this key song.
The keyboards (a mixture of hard Moroder-esque sequencers and jazzy rhodes) cook up a treat on the jazz-rock referencing Theft. Derision closes the first CD – and normally a track of this quality would be a fitting album closer, but the story continues onto the second CD.
Cat Factory is driven by a tight funk bassline, and reminds me a little of some of the mid-70’s Stanley Clarke albums that I listened to in my formative years.
On the Beach (no, not a Chris Rea cover version) is one of the most progressive tracks on the album, which at times also has a feel of Hatfield and the North and early Genesis.
The two longest tracks on the album are up next – End of the Line has a steady groove and addictive keyboard lines. Spanning the Eternal Abyss weighs in at nearly 11 minutes and as such has the space to fully explore the riffs, moods and multiple layers of the song.
Spanning the Eternal Abyss is made up of several parts, and I particularly love the toms and piano early section, before the track slows down (with a glitchy, funereal pace percussion loop) towards the end.
The album’s closing tracks, Bubble Trouble and Settle Down feature vibraphone work from jazz musician Jim Hart. Settle Down features the album’s best vocal performance from Joff Winks. It struck me on the early listens to Now We have Light that whilst the lyrics are an important ingredient in the songs, they are not obtrusive but make their point on repeated listening.
If you like modern progressive rock (Steven Wilson, Big Big Train, White Willow, Lifesigns et al) or progressive influenced / post-rock bands such as Radiohead, Mogwai or Sigur Ros, I would urge you to investigate Now We have Light and the music of Sanguine Hum.