For serious music aficionados the name Ed Kuepper requires scant introduction. From his highly respected and seminal back catalogue ouvre with The Saints, The Laughing Clowns and The Aints through to his sprawling body of solo work, Kuepper is often defined as a restless creative spirit operating outside of musical fads and commercial trends. And it is this sense of adventure and subtle reinvention that colours his latest release, Lost Cities.
The album finds Kuepper presenting a stylistically consistent sonic palate. Moody and evocative, the songs exist by and large as simply Ed and guitar, floating by on a fever-dream haze of subtle atmospherics and stinging six string workouts. Many of these numbers would no doubt work exceedingly well within a film-score setting. Pleasingly Kuepper doesn’t fall into the trap of letting the songs outstay their welcome, with nothing approaching prog-rock territory length wise. Wowing ’em and moving on serves these vignettes well..
Pavane presents a wistful, celestial opening, Ed’s voice at the forefront coming across as naked and vulnerable, accompanied by ethereal guitar washes..”the light of the moon, casting it’s shadows into my room.” While Friends With The Leader is an echoey, raga-bluesey slow burner which flickers and smoulders, before fading hazily into the distance.
Free Passage to Mars (some prophetic Bowie insight maybe!?) delivers a sonically ominous vibe, rattling drums appearing briefly somewhere in the distance, the song underpinned by an eerily insistent guitar motif, lending a sense of both impending dread and enlightenment as a telling Ed narrative brings this initial listen’s first bout of goose bumps. Definitely one of the album’s highlights..
What Can I Leave You is a one man ragged-glory machine, showcasing Ed’s in turns hypnotic and raging guitar stylings as well as his superb way with an understated yet memorable melody. No doubt this track would assume epically transcendental proportions within a live setting.
Fever Dream presents itself as a woozy, blues inflected workout, evoking images of vast desert landscapes and endless skies, crows circling in an overhead heat haze. Some Said, while sonically consistent with the rest of the record, delivers a stately yet catchy melody to go with the evocatively urgent guitar accompaniment and stands as another of the records high water marks.
And final track Queen of the Vale delivers a moody, film-score like intro before steadily building with an epic wash of Crazy Horse style guitar…rains soaking parched earth to cleanse and commence anew before subsiding into the distance as the album fades into the horizon..”And you know, it’s the end of our season, precious lady of the fair.”
A fantastic body of stylistically consistent tracks to accompany late night ruminations or long car journeys..