John Bassett - 'Unearth'

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John Bassett - 'Unearth'

You'll be impressed and numerous listens down the line, you'll know you were right to be.

You might not know John Bassett; you might not even know his main band with the wonderful name, Kingbathmat. However in the underground world of Psychedelic, Progressive Rock, he and they are rightfully big news and rightfully big news which is growing bigger by the year. A trawl through the inner fluff of The Mat reveals that initially they were indeed one man – Bassett. However 'Unearth' arrives as his first, proper, Bassett on the cover, solo album.

So it is different from KBM? Well yes and then well, yes... and of course, kinda... or then again maybe not. For this is an acoustic endeavour, based around layered voice, restrained strums on strings and keyboards which pitter-patter colour, even when it's black and white. There's a gentle persuasion at work, a sort of The Pineapple Thief despair and hopelessness without the bombastic pay-offs. Instead small back-handers are surreptitiously slipped into greased palms, cajoling across a Progressive landscape that refuses the title Prog, all the while knowing it belongs in that category somewhere. But the question is where? Square pegs, oblong receptacles. No pigeons to hole. Knowing how to place this simply effortless and gentle excursion is the challenge and one accepted, yet never satisfactorily concluded. It is grin inducing to try though.

Bassett has a voice and one which seduces. Not always crystal in clarity, yet thoroughly worthy of stories to tell and with unsettling ideas to impart. The flamboyantly simple guitar work dazzles through restraint, but with no lack of ambition. Bassett provides this too, as he does bass, a little drums and theramin, just to prove he can (like we doubted?). Recording? Producing? Mixing? He's the master - oh, he does that too! Yet somehow drummer Nathan A. Summers slipped unnoticed into the studio and played on some songs. Neither he nor Bassett are telling which. He must be good though, his snare snaps, tom pops and cymbal work remains undeleted on this otherwise most solo of soloing.

You'll yearn for more. Bassett knows less is the answer. You'll decide it is all a little sedate, yet continue to come back to know for sure. You'll be impressed and numerous listens down the line, you'll know you were right to be.

Steven Reid

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