The Cave Singers: Invitation Songs

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Aidan Williamson

08th February 2008
At 19:49 GMT

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What's that? A former member of a rock band has split off and recorded a folk-influenced acoustic album. Quick, hold the front page!

It seems that ever since Dylan went electric, there's been ten thousand musicians pushing the other way. So then Cave Singers. What makes you so special? You'd better have something more substantial that 'One of our members used to be in Pretty Girls Makes Graves'.

Here's the twist, it becomes quickly apparent that The Cave Singers have no idea how to make folk music. This mere fact makes them by far, one of the most interesting, intriguing, beguiling and various other elongated synonyms for 'good' entires into the genre. For instance, folk enthusiasts would tell you that making use of modern technology is a travesty on a par with goose-stepping at the holocaust survivors convention. Here, the serenading spelunkers pepper their periphery with electronic effects which bring the traditional hurtling forwards to the contemporary.

As it is, "Invitation Songs" occupies it's own little space, as if the trio had stumbled through a secret door buried in the depths of Seattle where time and space are inconsequential and the darkness itself threatens to pull you in, to be forever lost amidst the catacombs of nothingness. Plus there's some really nice music on the album too.

Their debut album is cleverly mixed in that each member of the trio occupies a separate spot in the pan. One member takes the centre stage, whereas the other two sit themselves on seperate wings. This simple choice serves to immerse the listener within the experience more than something which you would of initially thought would have been considerably more immersing but wasn't. These are indeed invitation songs, since they ask you very politely to come in and join the gang, put your feet up in front of the fire, and just listen.

Isolating the chapters of most interest, "New Monuments" wouldn't seem remotely odd if it came with a troupe of men smacking themselves over the head with boards whilst chanting adorning the lower recesses of the song. Whereas "Royal Lawns" brings in the mating calls of Jurassic leviathans to help tell its simple tale.

Since we're fairly near the bottom of the page, your eye has likely took in the fact that there isn't a mark of ten out of ten sitting proudly there.No, nor a nine nor an eight. Why?

Well, for starters, the things that make the band stand from the crowd are utilised too infrequently. The futuristic spends the vast majority of the album skirting the boundaries, keeping out of earshot, only to drop in very occasionally and raise the game of the trio. The prolonged absence of interest leaves the album very run-of-the-mill in a few expansive spots. While not necessarily a criticism as such, we should also bring up that centre-man Pete Quirk seems incapable of opening his mouth further than a few millimetres, therefore his vocals are understandably muffled and virtually indistinguishable.

Granted this gives opportunity for 'make up your own lyrics' hijinx. From "Oh Christine" we got the line "Oh Christine you sure were smoking the other day when I saw your rack." But music shouldn't require a lyrics booklet in your hand at all times to make it mean something.

Rating:  7 / 10

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