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Campbell, Neil: Last Year’s News

Last Year’s News is the third album in a quick-fire trio from acoustic guitarist Neil Campbell, based round the idea that if through a world changing event only a handful of the human race were left, what music would they create in this new and hopefully fairer world? Interestingly, the configuration from album to album hasn’t always stayed the same, this release and the first part in the story, The Outside - News From Nowhere, both being solo affairs, whereas the middle section, After The Flood, was a band effort from an outfit given the same name. A slight change of tack has also been taken by Campbell when he approached Last Year’s News, with a more instant, improvisational inspiration set free than had previously been the case. I’d suggest the results are the best of the trilogy and possibly the strongest of any of Campbell’s previous albums that I’ve heard.

Most of the pieces are reasonably brief, with tracks ranging from around the two minute mark up to four minutes making up ten of the twelve outings. The remaining duo, “There, again” (5mins 11) and “Tubular Rainbows” (7mins 10) appearing in the second half of the album and that again also hints at a different approach from before, with the mood and tone of the first half of the album light, breezy and optimistic, whereas the closing section is much darker and more introspective. So lets deal with the light first, “Chi” reminiscent of a more forceful Anthony Phillips in its pastoral nature, although there’s undoubtedly a great deal of energy infused along the way, while the percussively propelled “The Fat Of The Land” seems to build on a similar idea but stretch it out even further. “Rainbows” is a dreamier observation that floats on by without losing its focus, before “Get Reel” is the first of a number of pieces included that seem to rotate round an extremely circular rhythm, the unobtrusively pushy snare almost at odds with the much more free floating melody. “Wish You Were There” pulls in the opposite direction, accordion counterpointing the guitar before the note bending “Break The System”, which takes me to a similar mood as that which Adrian Legg can evoke, challenges you to engage a little deeper.

“The Reich Of Strings” is rich, yet pensive, this guitar piece shimmering but stark. Whereas the lengthier “Tubular Rainbows” follows another circular rhythm in building a densely packed and arranged piece that seems to have more melody lines and motifs than should really be allowed to fit together as seamlessly as they do. Positively dripping with raw emotion, the album’s title track then leads us into the darting, deep Latin grooves and handclaps of “Missing In Action”, where the rhythm again is central as it spins this enigmatically engaging piece round and round. Leaving “The Gloaming” to blend almost Indian like percussive bulges with a chiming, Gaelic breathlessness that ebbs into the pastoral closing of “There, again”.

Stunning, evocative and truly engaging, Last Year’s News transcends the expectations of an instrumental, acoustic guitar based album to become a hugely involving and rewarding showcase of the wonderful, underrated talents of Neil Campbell. The Flood Trilogy has been magnificent from start to end, but for me, its third and final instalment closes the journey on a real high.

Track Listing
1. Chi
2. The Fat of the Land
3. Rainbows
4. Get Reel
5. Wish You Were There
6. Break the System
7. The Reich of Strings
8. Tubular Rainbows
9. Last Year's News
10. Missing in Inaction
11. The Gloaming
12. There, Again

Added: April 12th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Last Year's News @ bandcamp
Hits: 356
Language: english

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