The unexpected sometimes happens at the most unexpected moment. I guess that’s the nature of the unexpected… After two years, Corvus Stone came up with a new album in September last year, which proved to be a step up from their first. Unexpectedly, they show up now now with a a new album again, only 9 months later: Corvus Stone Unscrewed. Not an entirely new album in terms of music, but a combination of new tracks, extended versions of tracks from the first two albums and remixes of some more. The remixing has been an effort by Colin Tench, who spent months getting the sound he was looking after hearing the bands own works so often. [acfw id=2]
A great sound – unlike some album I reviewed earlier this year, the music is not compressed, all instruments are easily heard and distinguished, and the balance in volume across tracks is never lost. Forgive me if that sounds like trying to sell the album, I was in the position to hear some early mixes and comment on those, and I really do like the sound of this album. Note that in reaction the loudness war, Colin made sure this album is everything but loud and has a dynamic range of 13.
One thing is clear from these new mixes, that may have gone slightly unnoticed on the first two albums. Corvus Stone has an amazing bass player in Petri Lindström. He is very much present on this album, without ever dominating the sound, but playing much more than standard bass lines at the same time. This is most clear on Horizon and Joukahainen without Chips.
As said, the album is a mix of remixed, revised and new tracks. Amongst the remixes we find Horizon and Moustaches from Massachussetts, two tracks that breath energy albeit in a slightly different manner. Horizon is a bright, energetic rock track with nice percussion and an uncountable bass led midsection, while Moustaches is, being almost danceable, probably the predecessor of Scandinavians in Mexico from Corvus Stone II. In both cases, comparing the old and new mixes is worthwhile and will end in favour of the new mixes I’m sure. The same applies to the uncontrollably weird composition JussiPussi, with Murky Red master mind Stef Flaming as the main composer and performer. After Solstice was also remixed, and the drums were re-recorded by Robert Wolff, creating an improved version of this track on which the instruments seem to go everywhere but always stays together.
In the revised and new sections, the most outstanding tracks are Early Morning Calls and Scary Movie Too.
Early Morning Calls, is an extended version of Early Morning Call, with changed guitar parts and extended with vocals – by Sean Filkins and Phil Naro. These changes make it into a different, possibly better, but still recognisable version of this waltz in 6/8.
Scary Movie Too, an extended version of Scarie Movie is so far my favourite on this album. It’s not all that much better than the rest, but it stands out because it sounds as if it’s recorded by a band playing together in a studio. That is impossible in case of Corvus Stone, due to geographical issues separating Mexico from the rest of the universe, but somehow the band managed to get that feel into the track. A feel that mixes well with the slightly haunting atmosphere of of the movie. An atmosphere also portrayed by the crow on the cover, an other MSPaint (!) masterpiece by covergirl Sonia Mota.
Lost and Found revisited, with Blake Carpenter, which now is much longer than on the original album. The new mix, the marching drums and the vocal melody provided by Blake are a very tasty combination. The split in two of Cinema (Petrified in the Cinema Basement and Cinema Finale) are remixed really well, and the real drums by Robert are added prove to be a good move. The hint to the name of the bass player in the first of these two tracks is no accident either.
Then there are four completely new tracks on the album, starting with the opening track Brand New Day, with a pulsing rhythm guitar joining the drums and a melodic baseline. The track Joukahainen without Chips (how’s that for a typical CS title) has a guitar in it that reminded me of Gary Moore’s track Dunluce, which predates his blues escapades. Long, whining notes combined with short melodies, over a once again flawless bassline and a mattress of keyboards by Pasi Koivu.
Landfill, just like Joukahainen with guest drummer Paul Marshall, has a synth and guitar opening that makes it almost a ballroom dance tune. However, soon enough it becomes clear that all the funny noises that the band is so proud of come together in this track. Go find an list them all, there may be a prize involved…
To close if off, Pack up your Truffles is a slightly different beast, an island off peace to end the album (if not counting bonus track Moustaches). A guitar lead that stays low key, limited percussion and other accompaniment show the jazzy side of Corvus Stone.
So, with 4 new tracks, 9 revised tracks and a playing time of just under 50 minutes, Corvus Stone have managed to produce another album within 9 months from the previous release. One very much worth getting. Even if not every track is new, they all sound new and fresher than on the first two albums. The album is available from the band’s bandcamp page from June 29th, for free to those who have bought the first two albums. From July 28th, it will be on sale to the general public. Go get it – this is a good introduction to a somewhat special (in many ways) band.