The shimmering, hazy silhouette of the sun’s dawning rays, cresting the horizon in joyful anticipation of all the possibilities of a new day sends cascading ripples of ultraviolet sound to wash the earth. The rich, dominating chords of an imposing organ emerge and swell to fill the soundscape with a powerful, majestic sense of triumphal presence, over-layed in turn by the irresistible sliding voice of a distorted guitar building to a compelling crescendo and abrupt halt. The day is born. Life begins. It is ours to fashion in the heat of the day.
Such an arresting, seductive entrée is the powerful scene setter for the fast paced, high tempo and utterly pulsating main course which follows. The sun having risen, the daily tasks of life begin, the frantic hustle and bustle of every day routines matched by a rocking, pounding, incisive rhythm, fortified with lingering accentuated aggressive guitar work and clear, authoritative vocals. Ultraviolet (Track 1) is an intense explosion of mesmerising, energetic vitality which quickly establishes the character and personality of the album as a whole.
As a debut album, Delta-V is staggeringly brilliant. The sheer consistency of the song writing is deeply impressive and the striking quality of the musicianship is truly remarkable. There is a breathless air of unbounded enthusiasm, an almost raw, fresh vibrancy which speaks of excitement, passion and intensity. The music is captivating, immersive, weaving gorgeous textures with extravagant layers which eagerly engage, consume and delight. There is no time to stand and stare; the compelling momentum carries you ever forward to the next song.
That such a feat can be achieved by just three people is stunning. The vision which drives the dramatic flow and power of the music is testament, again, to the thematic consistency of the album. The sun’s journey across the sky marks the ceaseless unfolding passage of time for those who live beneath it. We are creatures of time, of change, our lives filled with actions and reactions, decisions and choices made against the perpetual ticking of the clock. As the sun starts the day, so it sets at the end of the day; our lives take place in the spaces between.
Time and Tide (Track 2) is an eloquent reflection on the spaces we occupy. Whilst our lives are a busy bustle of activity, the awareness exists that despite appearances, we are never fully in control. We are passengers in a life driven by time; we cannot stop it, control it, alter it or reverse it. Time is the tide which carries us along. What matters is how we respond to the situations and people we meet, how we deal with happiness and sorrow, love and loss, joy and pain. What brings us together can also tear us apart; we should cherish what comes our way, accept the situations in which we find ourselves and make the best of the lives we have.
John Mitchell’s mix brings a spacious clarity and pressing transparency to the recording which beautifully distils the sense of energy and immediacy whilst amplifying a sweeping and encompassing feeling of depth. It is particularly illuminating when the pace slows and we have the utterly entrancing Swallowtail (Track 4), awash with the most delightful acoustic guitar work supplemented by rippling piano and crystal clear vocals. Beautiful. The stripped back simplicity of In The Sere and Yellow (Track 7) has a wonderfully judged restraint that heightens each instrument and makes the song shine and sparkle.
Red Skies Rise (Track 8) is a fitting anthemic closing track which finally brings us full circle musically as well as lyrically. It leaves us with a perfect showcase demonstrating everything that is good about this remarkable album. Constantly changing tempos, shifting thematic stories, exquisite instrumental solos, a sonorous narration and a fist pumping, foot stomping refrain: it really doesn’t get much better than this.
As the final guitar slowly fades and sitting in the satisfied silence which follows before stirring oneself to action once more, you are left gripped by the unshakable conviction that you have listened to something which is riveting, enthralling and absolutely magnificent. Mark my words: this stunning achievement by Kepler Ten will undoubtedly appear in many of the ‘Best Of’ lists at the end of the year.
Time and Tide (5.12)
The Stone (6.00)
The Shallows (6.11)
In The Sere and Yellow (4.44)
Red Skies Rise (10.52)
Richie Cahill – guitars
James Durand – vocals, bass, keyboard
Steve Hales – drums, piano
Label: White Star Records
10th February 2017
Format: CD, Digital download
This review originally appeared for The Progressive Aspect