21 December 2017
I'm beginning to love the shabby intimacy of the Wine Cellar. It's got an easy feel to it where whatever happens has a good heart, and a good beverage of any description is not hard to find.
I was having a chat with a guy called Tristan ahead of the gig. The conversation turned (OK, steered would be a better word, and yes, by me), towards the 52 gigs challenge, and he asked what have been the highlights so far. Top of my list was Blackbird Ensemble, which he was quite chuffed to hear, as it turns out he is their drummer.
I came across CPS at the 2016 Others Way festival, and left the show with both of their CDs. Tonight was the unofficial launch of their third album, The New King. I left with that too, and a t-shirt that will be treasured for some time.
No support act tonight, it was all about the main act. CPS is the vehicle of Finn Scholes. I never quite clicked that this was the same guy playing with Hopetoun Brown and the same guy doing keyboards with Reb Fountain and that perhaps he might be more than a little bit talented.
Tonight he was steering the ship, playing glockenspiel, trumpet, keyboards and tuba. And with him were a fine collection of musicians, with Cass Basil on bass, Tam Scholes on guitar, Alistair Deverick on drums, and Siobhanne Thompson on violin, vocals, and a tiny little French horn or something (perhaps I should have asked). And the guest musicians were out of the box, including Hollie Fullbrook, Hopetoun Brown, Matthew Crawley and Finn's dad, Jeff Scholes (who recited the poetry in songs like the Honeybee).
The first piece, Swamp Bossa, was quite upbeat and catchy, and quite a contrast to the sinister and often sombre tracks of their first two albums, many of which made me think of Ennio Morricone tripping out when he was supposed to be doing the soundtrack to A Fistful of Dollars.
But what I never realised from the first performance that I went to - which, typical of Others Way performances, was all about getting through as many pieces as possible in a short period of time - is that every song is the soundtrack to an animated film made by Finn, each of which tells an eerily surreal story. Like Temple Kiss, (if I recall rightly) about an angel who takes a guy to a beautiful place, only for him to have to leave, get depressed and die; or Journey of the Sacred Crystal, about a doomed expedition of GI Joe characters to steal a supernatural artefact.
Yes, the show certainly had that sense of being a bit out there, but I found it totally captivating and absorbing. His films have a Chris Knox feel, but with a narrative and enigmatic intensity all of their own.
For the last gig of 2017, the year finished on a real high. The full album launch is scheduled for March, and on tonight's performance I'll happily return.