Long-time coming, this one. After over a decade away, the ninth LP from Brummie oddballs Pram arrives via Domino. The groundwork for Across The Meridian was laid at sessions in Wales, and there is a thick seam of Welsh psychedelia that runs through the music here. Other obvious touchstones come from the English weirdo chronicles (Ghost Box Records, Oliver Postgate, that sort of thing), recent stuff like Meridian Brothers, and very much not recent stuff like interwar jazz.
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I've been looking forward this all week. Pram may not be quite the Pram you remember from the 90s when Rosie Cuckston led proceedings but after some time away the collective have returned with a rather special album which takes elements of the space age bachelor music they once produced. On this sometimes instrumental album they combine their signature eerie soundtracks with psychedelic jazz and library music influences. Though founding member Sam Owen takes over on vocals she doesn't have the character or range of, say, a Trish Keenan and at times the vocals seem like an afterthought to the beautiful instrumental pieces the band construct. This could be though that their music does seem to stand up on it's own and perhaps vocals aren't always required. Using trombones, electronics, theremins and rattly percussion the band construct a series of cinematic pieces that are part cabaret jazz quartet, part outer space electronic music.
The result is a patchy affair that has some true high water moments such as the opening comedic trombone parp of 'Shimmer and Disappear', the looped hauntology of 'Electra' and the closing excellence of 'Dolls Eyes' all middle eastern rhythms, random synth bursts and cinematic grandeur. When on song Pram are truly a unique proposition, they can't quite stretch this across the entire LP and there are moments that seem to be filler but I do like this band a lot. They are a rarity in these times of sounding pretty much only like themselves. They *might* have been better off making this an all instrumental LP. I can't decide. The vocal tracks sees them clinging onto their past sound but some of the instrumental passages let the band off the lead to move into exciting new textures.
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- Across The Meridian by Pram
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