I spend a fair amount of my free time trawling the internet, now that I am retired, streaming music and checking favourite websites, mainly prog related ones, taking a note of the general chatter and recommendations folks make there. All of which helps keep me informed of what’s happening in the world of prog, I hardly ever post my own recommendations though, quite why, I’m not really sure, but, as my listening tastes vary daily from 70’s classic rock to as yet unreleased music, I would find recommending music hard and possibly biased.
Whilst trawling recently I came across Wakefield based prog act Materialeyes and decided to check them out via bandcamp. I listened to their earlier album, ‘Three of a Kind’, which piqued my interest enough to contact Martyn Hawes and ask about the upcoming album release, ‘Inside Out’. Martin kindly sent me the album with a view to me reviewing it for Progradar and its my pleasure to be able to do this. I am always impressed by the quality of the releases you can find on bandcamp, I also like that funds go mostly to the artists directly, especially on bandcamp Fridays, which is even better for all concerned.
Well I’m glad to report that this a most interesting and rewarding release, whilst it may only has five tracks, it is an album of quality material starting with the solid opening track This World, that is about how we are hurting the world with our actions. The song begins with a chunky guitar chord and is followed by some glorious swathes of keyboards and a flute solo from Dave Westmoreland. It oozes pastoral progressive rock in the vein of Barclay James Harvest, that is a very worthy band to be compared to and Materialeyes do not disappoint either. There is a lot of layers to this track, Woody Wolstenholme would be proud hearing this strong song with it’s excellent style and good dynamics. Second track, Eric Upon Tweed, is a tale of a lad called Eric who finds himself removed from his family for attacking his drunken father, after seeing how he mistreat his mother. She arranges safe exit for Eric to his aunt’s in Berwick-upon-Tweed. This has distinct traces of Genesis’ style of storytelling, especially those with a social conscience to them. The story ends with Eric’s first sexual encounter in Berwick-upon-Tweed and latterly some words of praise from his dying father with whom there is a degree of reconciliation at the end. The tale is musically very rich with a great guitar line playing throughout and a great vocal from Martyn.
Longship is a maudlin and atmospheric track about Vikings returning to their homeland, the haunting sound being made by Will using his Ebow to create the haunting melodies. This melancholic piece has another great vocal from Dave, it is short but very moving and memorable indeed, a great track. Horsemen is inspired by the 1921 silent film The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse and starts with an acoustic guitar before prominent bass and keyboards join in. This is another longer track with room for expansive soundscapes, flute and synths, there are also western films referenced throughout. The track has echoes of the softer moments of Wishbone Ash’s Argus initially but soon becomes more strident, I really like this track and the panoramic soundscape it uses, it is a very well written, conceived and delivered piece of progressive music. The added length gives space for the music to unfold in the piece, additionally, the use of good dynamics really make a good impression, as does the fine bass playing from Martyn Howe, especially in the middle section. It makes this all the more rewarding to listen to, as does the fine guitar work from Dave Westmoreland and you can definitely hear the ‘Argus’ influence here.
Clay Man is the last and longest track of the album and was inspired by a heavy Wensleydale cheese eating session! The song is interesting, it’s subject matter a bit weird and dark in tone. It is mostly instrumental but with a few words, more music than words in fact and has more prominent bass alongside acoustic guitar and keyboards. It also has handclaps and what sounds like foot stomping and other syncopation, the song is one that builds in its intensity, which makes for interesting listening. A slower section with ethereal voices follows before the vocal of Will Lawery, who also provides excellent guitar on the whole album. The words seem to be about a man who has seen much pain and horror in the world and is traumatised by it all, hence the sad nature of the track.
Well that’s it, you are left wanting more of this fine music and I’d recommend checking out their back catalogue as it has some great music available there. Hopefully they have a bright future, if they continue to make music of such an excellent calibre. ‘Inside Out’ is a most rewarding release and more than worthy of investigation if you can. I think you will like it a lot, there is much to enjoy, especially if you like more pastoral prog like BJH.
Released 18th August, 2023.
Order the album from Bandcamp here: