William D Drake
The Rising of the Lights – Onomatopeia Records
Article written by Ged Me – May 27, 2011 soundsxp.com
The old seascape cover painting and the album title (a contemporary description of an obscure cause of death in London in the 18th and 19th centuries) makes clear that Drake is a man inspired by the past and a pastoral view of the world. With songs like ‘Ornamental Hermit’ describing the practice of old English aristocratic families for maintaining hermits on their estate, and a range of instrumentation that includes hurdy gurdy and harmonium as well as melotron and mini-moog, there’s a sense of old ideas filtered though contemporary eyes, conjuring an image of William Blake collaborating with Robyn Hitchcock.
A couple of tracks originally written for his side project with Tim Smith sounds a little more Genesis-like with their difficult time signatures while the rest of the album is a paint-guide of different shades of English eccentricity, from the stomping prog-psych of ‘The Mastodon’ to the Morris dancing rhythms of instrumental ‘Ziegler’ and the fairy-folk of ‘Homesweet Homestead Hideaway’. The emotive ‘Me Fish Bring’ even makes me think of Kate Bush, a song where the lyrics make no sense but still fit the mood, and a perfect tone is set by a mournful clarinet and the melancholy male/female duet. Ideas just seem to pour forth and there are lovely melodies lurking within the tricksy time signatures, which make this fourth album perhaps a little difficult to get into on a first listen but reward the listener’s persistence.