Psychedelic rock is the epithet attributed to “III”, appropriately the third album from Bask. I soon realised there was more than this cursory description, helpful as it is in giving a framework.
“Three White Feet”, which opens up, is a progressive blockbuster. It’s not overstated but it snakes along very nicely through trinkets of ringing post rock and developing into a heavier canvas. There are many things I liked, not least the interesting progress. “Three White Feet” is mobile. I applaud the band for not being too emotional and not too heavy. They take their time to develop subtle structures, which made it a joy to listen to and absorb. The other major plus is the singer, whose voice has an air of Phil Collins and is clear, expressive and vulnerable. Basically these are top quality rock songs with progressive twists and without gimmicks. ‘New Dominion” is just this, with a hooky rhythm line to draw us in. Here and there you get touches of Opeth in the connecting passages, and so another element of delight is introduced. The Southern rock of “Stone Eyed” isn’t really my thing, but Bask seem to be taking all this to another level with the richness of ingredients in these songs.
The great melodies continue with “Rid of You”, a much darker affair with a strong touch of melancholy, some lush guitar work, potent drum work and a climactic end. I was less keen on “Noble Daughters I – the Stave”, a throwback to the 1970s in its stoner come psychedelic-prog rock style. Part II which follows didn’t have the zip of the earlier songs either. This said, the clashing cymbals and moody guitar work add flavour to what I thought was a fairly ordinary song. And Bask show that they know how to master tempo as “Noble Daughters Part II – the Bow” builds up a head of steam and finishes in stoner style. I altogether preferred the final track “Maiden Mother Crone” with its languid countrified Mike Nesmith style guitar rhythm, and the song, which develops like a story – a good way to end.
For the most part, “III” was a breath of fresh air. It’s unpretentious and all the better for it. Its strength for me lay in the attractiveness and quality of the songs and the variety within them.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)