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After The Flood: After The Flood

Although it will be bookended by two solo albums by acoustic guitarist Neil Campbell, After The Flood, which is both the name of the album and the band performing it, is the second part of a trilogy. The first instalment was released earlier in 2018, The Outsider - News From Nowhere, a sublime collection that rewarded on many levels as it pulled from the William Norris book of the same name for inspiration; while the final act, Last Year’s News, will follow towards the end of this year. Here Campbell, who handles acoustic and electric guitar on this outing, as well as keyboards and handclaps, is aided by Marty Snape (Mighty Zeb/Bulbs/Babadub) who adds more acoustic guitar, keys and ‘electronics’; while joining the pair are Roger Gardiner on Overwater bass and Viktor Nordberg on drums. By it’s very nature that configuration marks this out as a differently styled collection from that which came before and so it proves.

What is unmistakable however is the main-man’s rather amazing prowess with six strings, as After The Flood imagines what music might become if, as some believe will happen sooner rather than later, the world came to an end and almost everything was destroyed. The belief here would appear to be that walls and boundaries would finally come tumbling down, with a cross continent journey undertaken by way of discovery. Hence we have the beautifully percussive “To Asia”, where a chiming precision is matched by an engaging guitar melody. Which then rubs shoulders with “From Africa”, the piece being redolent of the music from that area which Paul Simon took to world wide consciousness with Graceland. Here however, the mood and movement of that music is conveyed in a style that still keeps things intrinsically linked to the sounds which surround it on this album…. Close your eyes and you can see and feel the dancing and celebration this music would create.

The clever “Crossing Continents” blends the styles from these previous outings, highlighting the sharing and blurring of ideas, before “Europe After The Rain” adds a more Spanish flavour to the fluid guitar work and understated, relaxed rhythms. That all of these are preceded by the upbeat and gently forceful “To The New World” lays intertwining foundations for what is to come; the welcoming piece a perfect introduction to an ever engaging journey. However, it’s what arrives after the continent hopping that furthers the story and offers more insight, “Déjà Vu” countering some pensive fret picking against a Hammond burst and driving beat, as we move into territory that suggests jazz, rock, fusion and much more. “Higher”, while linked to what preceded it, is much more reserved in its fervour, the basis being little set plays of fret work and beats which surge and segue into the next, before the reflective tones of “5-HTP” alter the mood further. Solemn but beautiful, it’s virtually impossible not to pause your thoughts and simply soak it all in as the voice of Perri Alleyne-Hughes adds to the heady atmospheres, as they also do on the slightly more celebratory “Lantra”. Calling these two pieces prog rock would be a misnomer and yet, if they were arranged in a more jaggedly electronic fashion, it would be easy to imagine the likes of Porcupine Tree revelling in both.

“FiveOneSeven” adds a much more urgent Middle Eastern air, melody whirling and proud as the bullishness builds. Although it is maybe “Ten Men Dead” which surprises most, as a piece which seems to somehow bring together much of the journey we’ve taken up to now, and pull from all of those influences, brings the album to a close with the vocals from Ian Cantwell and Mark Jones moving things into a much more song based arena.

After The Flood is a bold and brave statement, its intentions broad in scope and possibly even broader in execution, even if the manner in which it is presented stays true to the acoustic guitar spirit that Neil Campbell’s work is most often centred round. Linked to its predecessor and yet completely different, if this second part of the guitarist’s trilogy teaches us anything, it’s that we should never presume what’s coming next. In that spirit, goodness only knows where the closing album in this 2018 trio will take us. If After The Flood is anything to go by, we’ll be in remarkably safe hands no matter where we end up.

Track Listing
1. To the New World
2. To Asia
3. From Africa
4. Crossing Continents
5. Europe After the Rain
6. Déjà Vu
7. Higher
8. 5-HTP
9. Lantra
10. FiveOneSeven
11. Ten Men Dead

Added: January 24th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: After The Flood @ bandcamp
Hits: 1526
Language: english

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After The Flood: After The Flood
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2019-01-25 03:40:25
My Score:

Neil Campbell is a UK guitarist who has recorded and performed with a diverse range of artists including Jon Anderson, Jan Ackerman, Davey Graham and many others. I began exploring his music upon reviewing eMErgence (2015) followed by Estuary (2017) and The Outsider " News From Nowhere (2018). His latest project is titled After The Flood and features the aforementioned Campbell (classical and electric guitars, keyboards, handclaps), Marty Snape (acoustic guitars, keyboards, electronics), Roger Gardiner (Overwater bass) and Viktor Nordberg (drums).

Although mostly instrumental, there is an underlying concept behind the piece. What if the world is almost completely destroyed of human life? Only small pockets of civilization remain. What kind of music would the surviving musicians make, learning from the past destruction that left the world lying in ruins? How could this be turned into a positive? Well, the answer lies in After The Flood. The disc begins with the uplifting melody and catchy guitar phrasings of “To the New World”. The background swaths of keys create a subtle texture all driven by a propulsive rhythm section. This track absolutely exudes optimism. Gentle strums of guitar and fluid picking highlight “To Asia”, also featuring spacey background synths adding an artful touch. With “From Africa” a world influence is certainly present but again the melody is simply joyous reminding of something the great African band Juluka might have written. With “Crossing Continents” and “Déjà Vu” the guitar picking is so catchy and melodic I just couldn’t help but smile. Another highlight has to be “5-HTP” sounding almost a little like Neil Young or Gordon Lightfoot, especially the lovely guitar melody. The backing vocals of Perri Alleyne-Hughes add another layer of enchantment. The exotic eastern tones in “FiveOneSeven” are quite stunning as well.

One of the best acoustic guitar players of our time, Neil Campbell and his mates has made a very impressive statement with After The Flood. This one easily earns four stars.

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