Baron - Torpor - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Baron - Torpor

by Ian Fraser Rating:7 Release Date:2015-11-06

If someone told me that Baron were a supergroup comprising members of Midlake, Arbouretum, Wolf People and (deep breaths) Fleet Foxes fronted by David Eugene Edwards I might be forgiven for taking them at their word. Ah, but wait, Baron are in fact an English four piece hailing variously from Brighton and Nottingham and who apply their own brand of occasionally solemn and hymnal-sounding old school folk rock (Torpor, their some would argue aptly titled second album, was recorded in a mediaeval hall for good measure). Their sound could also be said to sit pretty comfortably with the Canterbury tag although lacking the whimsicality and inventiveness of much of that sub-genre or indeed the pomposity of our old mate “prog”.

“Dragonfly” and “Mark Maker” are the early outriders here and the depth and texture of both these songs are both deceptive and dynamic. Featuring prominent church-sounding organ and electric folk guitar runs, they sound like they are freshly exhumed from an old vault and, while they don’t deviate much from the central motif, each song builds to something quite spiritual and rousing with more than a whiff of Van Der Graaf Generator about them. This tension and suspense mounts during “Wild Child” with the organ and guitar trading off each other splendidly, propelled by rumbling bass. Now the pastoral “Dark Down” really is as pleasant an end to Side 1 as you could wish for, but the piece de resistance here is the eight-minute “Stry” which opens the second stanza. An indolent, tripped out opening few minutes catches fire in true Baronial fashion around half way in, this time a mighty heft evoking the spirit of Pink Floyd engaged in their heaviest “Echoes” work-out mode. It’s a storming composition and definitely the best thing here. “Sleepless” and “Deeper Align” complete the collection, the latter a catchy, Eastern-tinged nugget that would sit snugly on the flip side of a “Stry” single.

There are those of my acquaintance who, having read this, will no doubt be rolling their eyes despairingly and incanting along the lines of “is THIS what we fought the punk wars for”. To them I say give this one space and judge it not harshly as there is much to savour herein. In any case such inverted snobbishness has no place in these enlightened and more tolerant times (!) and anyway, two minutes and one chord played at the wrong speed ceased being much of a virtue in all but the most adroit of hands many moons ago. Get over it and get back to the future, this ain’t half bad. Maybe you’ll even enjoy it.

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