The last time GoldenPlec spoke of This Other Kingdom, the praise was unequivocal. The neo-psychedelic outfit from Dublin, and their debut LP Telescopic, were deemed irreproachable. “The pacing’s immaculate, the songs are top-notch, and there’s no sign of filler”. Two years later with the release of their sophomore album, ‘Rêveur’, in April, much of the same sentiment applies.
The band continues to form an arresting hybrid of classic psychedelia and later indie-rock influences. They effectively pay homage to the pioneering acts of their genres ancestry, while refusing to deny the major influence that the intervening decades could potentially have on it. The result of this alchemy is ‘Rêveur’, a remarkably cohesive collection of inter-genre mutation.
Common Colours/Common Sounds introduces the band’s staple rhythmic pacing and monochrome vocal phrasing. While this style anchors most of the tracks and is essential to the album’s overall atmosphere, it is the more colourful moments in between that give this album its edge. Telescopic State of Mind is a perfect marriage of this interplay, where the gradual development of atmosphere in the verse combusts into a chorus of colourful soundscapes and dynamic expression.
What makes this album attractive is its simplicity. There are no frills or ostentatious displays of artistic merit. The band maximises the potential of each song without ever suffocating it. Chemikle begins with a skeletal guitar intro and then delivers a masterclass in how to utilise a basic vocal melody line well beyond its usual scope. Using a combination of octave leaps, harmonies and dynamic instrumentation, the four-and-a-half-minute song maintains your interest without ever straying beyond a simple vocal melody.
Jim Morrison’s presence is felt on Rays for Days (When the Sun Did Shine), while Hellion carries a distinctly Tomorrow Never Knows flavour. The band are an exciting product of their influences, especially when combined with later influences such as Joy Division. Elsewhere, the instrumental track (with it’s exotic un-typable title that roughly translates from Hindi to “New Delhi: Seven”, possibly a reference to the seven cities of Delhi) explores more exotic boundaries with a sitar-inspired instrumental on electric guitar.
As the album reaches its final two tracks, there is a palpable change of energy. Valley of Nowhere, while still maintaining the guitars consistent reverb effect, takes a stylistic detour into a more direct rock sound with a darker choice of chords and texture. This is War never gets off the ground but instead opts to maintain a simmering darkness throughout, including an ominous repetition of “An eye for an eye makes the world go blind”.
The band knows exactly what it wants to sound like and this is reflected in the production value displayed on ‘Rêveur’. Many of these songs could seamlessly drift into the realm of the inflated, but the band stay disciplined and contain their efforts in more concise cuts. This Other Kingdom have yet again crafted a body of work that reflects their musical efficiency, creativity and style without ever compromising on concision. To paraphrase a previous GoldenPlec review, ‘Rêveur’ is a top-notch offering with no filler and reflects well on a band who know what they are.