Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Comus - First Utterance

Another of this year's reformations/comebacks, and one that I've found most surprising is undoubtedly that of Comus. Formed in 1971 by Roger Wootton, Comus were a progressive rock/folk band who many claim can be seen as a primary influence on today's freak-folk and apocalyptic folk genres. Though they only released two albums, 71's utterly classic First Utterance and 74's lesser but very much underrated To Keep From Crying, these records are so undeniably exciting that it's been inevitable that they would soon get the acclaim they deserve. If you haven't heard them, nothing can quite prepare you for the utterly insane genre mixing they were doing at the time they were doing it. Progressive rock, drone, noise, and traditional folk combine to create a noise that's really unlike anything else at the time, and it's no wonder that folkies then didn't know what to do with them. There's even a bit of the second record that sounds like Animal Collective!i Overlapping male and female vocals are sometimes almost comically demonic, at other times beautifully sweet. Think The Incredible String Band led by Genesis P-Orridge and you're only half way there. Probably the most obvious modern followers of Comus would be David Tibet's Current 93, and indeed Tibet covered the Comus classic Diane on 1990's Horse. Sweden's fabulous Opeth have also reused lyrics from Comus on their own albums.

The band split after their second album bombed, and all has been quiet since then, as the album slowly reached more people, grew something of a mini cult around itself and was reissued. Lead man Roger Wootton's mental problems were first documented on First Utterance track The Prisoner, and indeed he's reportedly been in and out of mental hospitals for much of his life. This makes it all the more surprising that he has apparently been let out of the mental hospital he lives in (or has been committed to, i'm not sure on this) in order to reform Comus for an appearance next March at the Mellotronen festival, where they'll be performing along with Opeth, Leaf Hound and many other such excellent types. Whats even better is that it takes place on a cruise ship, and is called the 21st Anniversary Schizoid Boat (as its the ubergood Mellotronen label/promoter/store's anniversary). Good for them. How i'd kill to be able to afford to go to this.

Comus - Drip Drip
Comus - The Prisoner


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