Scrambled Limbs - Portmanteau

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2018-03-09
Scrambled Limbs - Portmanteau
Scrambled Limbs - Portmanteau

This one is a dense whisper from the dartboard bullseye center of the cosmos.

Or something like that.

Scrambled Limbs is Sam Rodwell’s one-man psych-prog band. A reference point would be the early albums by Bevis Frond like Inner Marshland, except the Limbs’ songs on Portmanteau are much more varied, and Sam Rodwell sounds like a fairly lucid Syd Barrett, rather than the Roger McGuinn/Byrds style of Nick Saloman.

For those who go back a bit, imagine The Pretty Things’ single “Defecting Grey” from 1967 stretched over an entire album.

The first song, “Round and Round and Round,” is amorphous, with vocals buried deep in the mix and music that swirls like a galaxy that has yet to congeal into fixed form. But the signature guitar cuts through the ephemeral music and weighs the tune down with likable gravity.

You know, gravity, like rock ‘n’ roll music, can be many things; but ultimately, both are extremely likeable.

“Tincture” brings the vocals to the fore. They are a little shaky at first. Again, there’s the ghost of Syd Barrett. The guitar part is dramatic like Cream’s “White Room.” Then that guitar turns complex and proggy. And, while I really don’t think Neil Peart will break into a sweat because of the competition, the drumming is simpatico with this music.

“Juggler’s Despair” starts with an acoustic intro. But it gets heavy. In a way, it reminds me a of a pretty good Steve Hackett solo song. There’s a guitar part that does, indeed, recall the absolute bleeding beauty of Hackett’s work. The same is true for “Plasterboard,” which has a nice melody and breaks into a sweet guitar figure while the heavens erupt with intensity. This is lovely stuff.

“Rainmaker Struggle” rocks and gets all wah-wah and passes all that wah-wah between the speakers. Then sublime guitar sonics bounce around the tabs of the tune. This, too, is lovely stuff.

And just so you know: This isn’t a 5.1 remastered by Steven Wilson Surround Sound anything.

This song simply manages to produce the vibrations that tingle the brain.

And a good brain tingle, like gravity and rock ‘n’ roll music, is also extremely likeable.

So, it’s on into the belly of the beast. “The Witch on Hyde Park Ridge” is classic hard prog, and it’s a long way from the open space music of “Round and Round and Round.” This one lurches and dodges a few punches, but then it throws tough punches of its own. And there’s a nice choral ending. “Peanut Brittle” is soft and acoustic, that is, until it becomes thick and wonderfully big and heavy like a Larks’ Tongues King Crimson composition.

You know (again), the juxtaposition between light and dark is an important part of this music, and this is an album that spins as the good soundtrack for a stargazer’s glance into a clear night sky.

It all ends with “Radiovvaves,” a loud and up-beat tune with more of Fripp “Fracture” intensity. There’s an acoustic bit that builds tension, and then the song explodes into cosmic rumbling guitar bliss which stretches into an Eastern-tinged and contemplative conclusion.

This album has sonic color to burn. It’s intense, and it is lovely. And, ultimately, it’s just some guy making a rock record in his home-made studio. I think Buddy Holly did that, too. That’s the essence of great music. Steve Hackett, in his single “The Show” claimed that “Music should be free.” That’s a utopian thought. And this record plays the notes of that utopian thought in the midst of a corporate world. It’s amazing that anyone still does that. But we should all be thankful for the passion, a passion that has produced a record that searches the cosmos for the deep depth of our own humanity.

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars
  • No comments found