Crayola Lectern – Happy Endings (2018) review
Happy Endings (2018 – Onomatopoeia Records – UK)
In the glorious fashion of late Cardiacs, like an aquatic ghost choir atop the golden German Baden-Band Organ at a predawn amusement park located in no man’s land, comes the sophomore release from a brilliant and highly inventive band fronted and formed by Chris Anderson (using the name Crayola Lectern). Gathering a huge talent pool of mates include ex Cardiacs members Jon Poole (keyboards, subotron, harmonium, bells, timpani and spacecraft)/ Bob Leith (drums)/and Christian ‘Bic’ Hayes , who left Cardiacs to play in Levitation (electric guitar on Lingeron, Lux, (No More) Happy Endings and Finale). Also Alistair Strachan of many performances such as ZOFFF, Oddfellows Casino, Mary Hampton Cotillion, and They Came From The Stars (I Saw Them), to name a few (cornet, flugelhorn, melodica, omnichord and percussion). Damo Waters (drums on Rescue Mission) came from ZOFFF, The Electric Soft Parade, and Clowwns. In addition are Jake Rousham (needy robot bleeps on Rescue Mission). Chris Anderson is on voices, piano, vibraphone, cz101, oboe, alto saxophone, acoustic and electric guitars.
The band’s debut (The Fall and Rise of…/2013) had the same Cardiacs world sound along with slices of Robert Wyatt, Richard Sinclair, and early Peter Gabriel, giving it a progressive rock touch. This time around, the sweet sound goes to a whole new level of quaint carnival fused esoteric music with ghost town saloon piano, haunting underground vocals, some classical, jazz, folk, ragtime, rock, early music and elsewhere. This is both calming and stirring, with a hymnal atmosphere often layered in rich clothing. I am sure Tim Smith is proud of this.
Educated listeners will hear what could be a demented early Enid who forgot what century they were in, stirred with a lethal dose of William D. Drake, The Sea Nymphs, and a long lost 70’s solo by the Shulman Brothers, in which no commercial record label would accept. Brilliantly British, way out of the box, euphoric composition and performance. Wondrous, cosmic, eargasmic, and leaps and bounds beyond most anything in 2018 released so far. With a few space cadet moments, this exclusive formula of artistry is surely kept safely hidden amongst a precious rare, who have a secret handshake in a fraternal membership, blood swapping ceremony and indoctrination that gives them the musical skills and knowledge, which has produced so many Cardiacs inspired masterpieces. Crayola Lectern is a part of that lucky few.
Bless each and every soul of this band, especially Chris Anderson for bringing it all together. Words fail to do justice but from the subtle places of humor, the spheres swaddled in melancholy, and the staggering amount of lush epic measures, ‘Happy Endings’ must be heard to be believed. Better than sex. INSANELY RECOMMENDED.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson 8 – 30 – 2018