“Shibboleth” is the third album (the previous two are “Head” and “Argot”) from the band Thieves Kitchen. For me this is the first time I hear music from this band, so I can’t compare to the other two albums which still included singer Simon Boys. He has been replaced by female singer Amy Darby. The band is playing a kind of prog with jazz fusion elements.
Andy Bonham – Bass; Amy Darby – Vocals; Wolfgang Kindl – Keyboards; Phil Mercy – Guitars; Mark Robotham – Drums.
The album has six tracks which range in length from 5 minutes to 24 minutes. The opener “The picture slave” is an up-tempo piece with some Mellotron sounds and Holdsworth like guitar work of Phil Mercy. The latter counts for more tracks on this album. Phil produces notes that are seamless welded together. That’s why the comparison with Allan Holdsworth comes up. But if I hear the solo in “De profundis” I think he must also be a fan of the “master”. “De profundis” is one of my favorite tracks. The vocals of Amy Darby reminds my of Fran Hallard the singer of the band Edge who released the albums “Suction 8” and “Sarcastic fringeheads” in the late eighties. But in “Cardinal red” the band reminds me more as a fusion between Allan Holdsworth and National Health. This delicious piece includes some great guitar/synth duels with Phil Mercy on guitar and Wolfgang Kindl on synthesizer. With “Spiral bound” the band slows down with a delicate piano and acoustic guitar while Amy is singing one of those slow vocal melodies. “Chovihani rise” is the long (24 minutes) epic of this album. This long track has nice melodic moments but also the necessary rhythm breaks and more complex parts. Halfway the track the bands becomes more jazzy with a swinging bass and piano. After this Phil is playing like Holdsworth did in his UK and Bruford period. The tension of the music is growing and some parts remind me again of National Health. The last track is called “Surface Tension” and is more up-tempo with a lot of organ and heavy guitar work. The synth sound of Wolfgang Kindl reminds us again of Alan Gowen and Dave Stewart (National Health)
This adventurous progfusion will attract to lovers of Allan Holdsworth and long gone bands like Bruford and National Health. The music will be too complicated for Neo-prog fans. So if you like your prog with big doses of jazz-fusion, you will enjoy this album. The band surprised me with this good progfusion album.