Reminds us of: Brian Eno, Laraaji, Terry Riley, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, The Orb
Links to music and articles in blue.
‘I'm sometimes tempted to make my own music, and Kavus is encouraging. It would never be anything more than a whim, though. I'm 56; I'd have known years ago if it was any kind of calling. And even if I do come up with something, I'd never play it on our show. No way. I have a feeling it would be pathetic’.
Steve Davis, interviewed in the Independent in 2014.
I nearly fell off my seat when I saw a post announcing that 6 times snooker champion, Steve Davis had teamed up with Kavus Torabi and Michael J York to make a ten minute plus track as the Utopia Strong. I should have known it would be good though, given that it was being released by the ever reliable Rocket Recordings, the home of such quality music as the wonderful Gnoomes and the sadly now defunct Josefin Ohrn and the Liberation.
So I put Brainsurgeons 3 on and was pleasantly surprised to hear its rather appealing blend of Komische, Ambient and Psychedelia.
Whilst Steve Davis is a household name, and one of Romford’s best known sons, I had to do some digging on Kavus Torabi and Michael York. Both of them have been making music for many years within bands such as Gong, the Cardiacs, Coil, Current 93, Knifeworld, Teleplasmiste, and Guapo. Davis met with Torabi at a Magma gig in 2009 and they hit it off, Torabi soon discovering that Davis was a music nerd with a liking for head music. The story of their meeting is told in that article in the Independent.
After Brainsurgeons 3 was released in June, the three of them announced that an album would be released in September. One further track appeared prior to the album’s September 13th release date Konta Chorus, which suggested that the album would be something to listen out for. I went a little bit further and got myself a copy of the orange vinyl in its holographic packaging!
and The album begins with Emerald Tablet, an elegant Terry Riley-esque drone that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. As is the case with a number of tracks on the album, Konta Chorus builds beautifully to the point where its myriad elements perfectly collide. Swimmer is an ambient Laraaji like wash of soothing sounds (minus the zither) that as with later tracks like Transition to the Afterlife and Do you believe in Two Gods? could do with being a lot longer.
A couple of short interludes Unquiet Boundary and Pickmans Model and the excellent ‘Brainsurgeons 3’ complete the album, along with closing track Moonchild – the only part of the record that features any form of vocals, albeit looped and submerged within the mix.
All in all, ‘The Utopia Strong’ feels like the coming together of three talented friends who have each brought their love of music to make something quite special. I get the impression that the respect each has for each other has probably led them to temper the length of some of the tracks here, because you really are left wanting the music to go on for longer in places. It may be that they explore more when they play live, which I’ll get to find out when I catch them on their tour in December.
For the meantime however, put the album on, sit back, close your eyes and enjoy.
For more information on how the band came together, have a read of this interview in The Quietus.
The Utopia Strong play live in November and December. For details, please click here.
Click here to buy Rocket Recordings stuff and here to read their blog.