Rock, November 2022

hfnalbum.pngBonny Light Horseman
Rolling Golden Holy
Picadilly Records 37D031CD; LP: 37D031LP

Bonny Light Horseman's Grammy-nominated 2020 debut largely consisted of reworkings of traditional songs, but here they deliver an all original set that still taps back into that wellspring – 'Someone To Weep For Me' is a doomed cavalryman's lament for the love he left behind. The band have an impressive pedigree: Anaïs Mitchell wrote the Broadway musical Hadestown; guitarist Joshua Kaufman has worked with The National and Taylor Swift; and Eric D Johnson has played in The Shins. Their vocal harmonies are gorgeous throughout and instrumentation ranges from spare acoustic settings augmented with occasional sax to the denser combination of fuzz guitars, keyboards and banjos on 'Cold Rain And Snow'. MB


The Beths
Expert In A Dying Field
Carpark CAK163CD; LP: CAK164LP

On their third album the Auckland quartet balance tightly played pop immediacy, which is often based on complex chord structures, with a love of velocity and the physicality of sound. 'Best Left' features a widescreen guitar-o-rama and on the single 'Silence Is Golden' they sound like The Bangles meet The Pixies with Jonathan Pearce's delightfully deranged guitar solo an unexpected bonus. Stokes is an engaging narrative lyricist. On the title track she describes the protagonists clinging onto the remnants of a relationship, while she wants to travel to comfort a lover who is 'Working in the morning, wasted in the evening' on 'Your Side'. MB


Ancient Astronauts
Rune Grammofon MPCD106; LP: MPLP306

Most of the music here originally comes from a dance piece inspired by Stravinsky's the Rite Of Spring – not that many would be able to discern the influence. The Norwegian psychedelic-prog trio recorded Ancient Astronauts live in the studio, adding overdubs, and like their concerts it's expansive in mood, particularly on 'Chariot Of The Sun', which builds from a pretty, wordless melody etched with glockenspiel, through relentless, hypnotic riffing and restless drumming, until Hans Magnus Ryan launches into some guitar skywriting. The excitement peaks on the intense, super-tight 'The Ladder' and on 'Azrael' with its thrilling, high-velocity polyrhythms. MB


William Orbit
The Painter
Rhino 190296189265; LP: 0190296278495

Orbit made a breakthrough in 1999 with banging electronic versions of classical tunes on Pieces In A Modern Style but The Painter is a mix of seductive instrumentals and songs featuring guest vocalists: on 'Duende', Katie Melua is backed by picked guitars, chattering beats and cosmic synths. Here Orbit's production is full of colour with a typically luxurious, cool texture and melodic elements positioned three-dimensionally within the soundfield. 'Heshima Kwa Hukwe', 8m of mantric electro-funk, features Tanzanian vocalist Hukwe Zawose and on 'No Other World', Beth Orton sounds as if in a dream, her voice echoing in a sonic hall of mirrors. MB