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Kaprekar’s Constant: The Murder Wall

Depth Of Field from 2019 felt like something of a breakthrough for UK symphonic prog outfit Kaprekar’s Constant, who formed in 2016 and released their Fate Outsmarts Desire debut a year later. The Murder Wall is the septet’s third full length release and yet again we are deep in idiosyncratic conceptual territory. Resisting the temptation to follow the trend and remind us of what the world has offered up in recent years, this album instead chronicles six different attempts to climb the North Face of The Eiger, one of mountaineering’s most difficult challenges. The action takes place between 1935 and 2007 and is glimpsed from the hotel terraces of Kleine Scheidegg through the strategically placed telescopes trained on the climbing parties. From this small hamlet, towered over by the 13,000 foot mountain, we witness the various triumphs and tragedies.

Unusual though that may be, as a starting point it’s the perfect setting for the expressive, thought provoking land in which this band exist. Beautifully created musical set-plays revealed through a symphonic progressive rock sound that fits wonderfully into the slightly folk tinged revival that seems to be growing for this approach in the UK and beyond. As ever with this band, the thought goes beyond the wonderfully crafted music, the CD booklet containing vintage photos that relate to some of the tales regaled, with snippets of ‘hand written’ notes adding to the strangely determined, triumphant, tragic stories as they are told. However, more than anything else, what strikes you is how utterly complete the arrangements are as the brass intertwines with the focussed beat and magnificent vocal back and forth of “Another Man’s Smile” - the way in which the voices of Dorie Jackson and Bill Jefferson merge and diverge across this album a real thing of beauty. The band as a whole, however, are never outshone, the work of David Jackson (VDGG, saxes, flutes, whistles), Mark Walker (drums, percussion), Mike Westergaard (piano, keyboards, backing vocals), Al Nicholson (guitars, piano, keyboards) and Nick Jefferson (bass, keyboards) never less than captivating. With the tracks ranging from around two and half minutes through to seven-plus, the seventeen offerings make for an album of somewhere around the 75 minute mark. And yet somehow The Murder Wall absolutely whizzes by as the lengthier tracks are expertly joined by shorter pieces that move the stories along. The run from the aforementioned “Another Man’s Smile” into “Years To Perfect”, “Hope In Hell” and the unforgettable “Victorious” - which turns into one of the album’s more singalong moments - handled with such ease that you can’t help but be taken along on the highs and highers of the mountain’s hopeful conquerors.

As you’d expect, the music takes on the form of our intrepid adventurers, uplifting moments of ambitions achieved played quickly against the fateful final moments of the less fortunate. With so many keyboard players in the band - three in total - lining up against one guitar player, there’s no disguising which instruments dominate, and yet Nicholson still provides some terrific solo sections that snag the ear and don’t let go, but then all of the instruments really do shine here whether pushing themselves to the front or drawing the background pictures that form the basis of these stories.

As mentioned earlier, the UK progressive rock scene is as vibrant today as it has been at any stage over the last 40 or so years, with so many bands and albums vying for our attention and praise. With The Murder Wall, Kaprekar’s Constant have pushed themselves right to the forefront and hopefully will begin to become the progressive household name their music so obviously deserves them to be.

Track Listing
1. Prologue 

2. Theme - Hall of Mirrors

3. Tall Tales by Firelight

4. Failure Takes Care of Its Own 

5. Another Man's Smile 

6. Years to Perfect 

7. Hope in Hell 

8. Victorious 

9. The Rain Shadow 

10. Third Man Down 

11. A Silent Drum 

12. The Stormkeeper's Daughter

13. A World Beyond Man 

14. The Stormkeeper's Reprise 

15. Endeavour 

16. Mountaineers 

17. Hall of Mirrors

Added: April 23rd 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Kaprekar's Constant online
Hits: 679
Language: english

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