Influences. They’re funny old things, and very often, like your family, you can’t choose them. They seep into the brain through the ether, sometimes in obvious form – things you like, love even, that become part of your very being – sometimes very much less so. Who, for instance, would have thought that Justin Greaves, erstwhile member of Iron Monkey and Electric Wizard, now the Kingpin of Brit prog leviathan Crippled Black Phoenix, would find himself recycling the refrain from Mark Knopfler’s Local Hero theme on new album opener To You I Give?
Actually, that isn’t as whacky a proposition as it sounds. Knopfler is the king of somnolent reverie, and there’s an awful lot of that going on in The Great Escape, the latest masterpiece to emerge from the Crippled Black Phoenix Stable, wherein Greaves has surrounded himself with fellow travellers to put together perhaps his finest work to date, though almost certainly not of his career.
And although influences are clearly visible throughout – Depeche Mode inform the excellent Madman, for instance, Pink Floyd an awful lot of the rest, as per usual – this is unequivocally the work of CBP. The air of dank foreboding that hangs over even the most delicate music here, as it does on the finely-wrought dream pop of Nebulas, could only come from the collaboration of Greaves and his hive of adherents.
Perhaps the best thing about The Great Escape, though, is the sheer addictive nature of its songs. Not only will you find yourself returning again and again to it’s constituent parts, dipping in here and there to enjoy a personal favourite or two – you’ll actually find yourself sitting down to listen to the whole thing in toto whenever time affords you the opportunity, dissecting the songs to the most minute degree of scrutiny. Luckily the music stands such devoted appreciation, offering new facets to enjoy at each return to the coalface. Only the greatest albums afford the listener this opportunity.
At the end of the day, a four hundred word review isn’t even going to scratch the surface of an album like The Great Escape. Better for me as a reviewer simply to state that Crippled Black Phoenix have surpassed themselves again, and that you should be adding this to your collection at your earliest convenience.
The Great Escape is released by Season of Mist on September 14th.