Hobgoblin – Staines – 1st March
So we are here at The Siegfried Sassoon (named after the Great War poet) “single release party” at The Hob Staines. But the Chertsey boys haven’t got their singles with them (a mix up with the post-production). Hmmm. And the crowd in Staines is forgiving. Probably more forgiving than they ought to be. In fact, the party is still going ahead (with or without the single) and the audience is fizzing like a sherbet fountain dropped into a glass of fanta. I saw a black and white chuckle-vision dalmatian in the crowd- it may have been Cadpig or Lucky – but I didn’t see Perdita. Perhaps the significance of all this is that the Sassoon sound is fun fun fun. The diversions come as ice-cream van chimes, merry-go-round organs or squelchy stylaphone tones. Sassoon music is not eagerly flamboyant, majestic or epic like the nu-prog royalty i.e. Dream Theatre, Beardfish or The Mars Volta. Theirs is capricious and frothy stuff.
Stylistically the sound is closer to the ‘Roine Stolt’ vehicle ‘The Flower Kings’ than many contemporary bands but there are slices of ‘Dartz’ type guitarwork garnishing the cocktail of sounds and, I think, a ‘Vines’ type vibe with grown-up ‘Craig Nicholls’ sounding vocals. The Siegfried Sassoon seem to populate the vacuum left by 70’s prog-rock masters, especially ‘Gentle Giant’ (which, like Sassoon, are sophisticated enough to have their own literary muse in their form of François Rabelais.) Unexpected compositional twists, altering subtly in each repeat, and intelligent management of the transitions, mean that Sassoon could easily be placed into the Jazz-Fusion bargain-bucket alongside their (local) buddies Cats & cats & cats but this also means that they are forever to be placed into that difficult ‘unhummable’ slot that is reserved for the clever muso-headed brain-box crowd… so the chavs in Staines aren’t as fick as you might fink!
I instantly liked the (missing) single ‘Muscle Beach’ and that clever start with a supermarket check-out sounding beep-beep ( a little like the “Tricky” Stewart of ‘ella ‘ella fame new Beyonce track ‘Single Ladies’.) This song envelopes a rich and fairly complex affair with a graceful conclusion very reminiscent of work by ‘The Flaming Lips’. Satisfyingly zingy elasticated chords from Adam Easton were stretched far beyond their tolerance and the frequent guitar highlights from Simon Gould reminded the crowd that they were listening to one of the few properly focussed Experimental / Psychedelic / Rock bands out there right now. It’s a shame that the B side could not be played live with a female lead singer though.
The track ‘I Galactico’ sees Chris Pratt (keyboards and lead vocals) take the band into magical territory. With Jim Carroll playing nimble bass guitar and Nick Owsianka playing steadily supporting percussion augmented by drum patterns by Chris. The smug faced crowds grunted and wriggled to that one! It was a jiggly ball of fun.
The whole Sassoon effect is spacey and neo-psychedelic with multi layered experimentations (including electro-acoustics) being the norm. The show was not (in any way) slick and could have been better managed. The performances were adequate but you get the feeling this lot prefer the studios and the rehearsal rooms to a live stage. This band has a superior musical quality but they do seem to need some better leadership and / or management if they want to get up to the next level. Chris mentioned that the band had T shirts and other merch with them (but, even though I had a handful of cash in my greasy mitts I couldn’t get hold of any stuff) and he told the crowd “If you want a motorhead T shirt go to Top Man – if you want our stuff – hang around”. Yeah, I get it. You have to hang around and work for Sassoon. It is ‘thinking man’s’ music and doesn’t easily fall off the shelf and into your lap. Got it. Give ’em a whirl.