Friday, March 16, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 258 - Chapterhouse - Blood Music

Album – Blood Music
Artist - Chapterhouse
Key Players – Stephen Patman – guitars and vocals., Andrew Sherriff – guitars and vocals. Simon Rowe – guitar. Russell Barrett – bass.
Produced By - Ralph Hezzard, Pascal Gabriel, Simon Postford, Paul Rabinger

Release Date – October 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Just combing the shelves for something new to write about and listen to all over again. No other reason other than, at this time, it hadn't been done.

Overview – This is the second (and final?) album from English “shoegaze” band “Chapterhouse”. Formed in the late 1980's the band would work on material for more than a year before recording their demo. They'd release a debut to moderate success and then follow it up in 1993 with this record. They'd struggle with some lawsuits regarding sampling and they'd go dormant for close to 15 years before doing a few shows and short tours.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The 11 track 55 minute albums with the dreamy “Don't Look Now”. There are syth samples that provide the ambiance as the vocals are sung. At about the 20 second mark it gets more of a “techno” electronic drum beat. The guitars hit like a wall after that atmospheric intro. The riffs continue seemingly on a loop before the main vocals begin. Close your eyes and envision a VERY foggy stage with slow pulsating lights and you get the idea of the vibe of the track. “There's Still Life” has acoustic guitars and then Barrett's bass line is more up in the mix. It still has a very atmospheric vibe as the two acoustic guitars mesh well with the bass line. A longer electric guitar solo comes forth about the one minute mark, but it wrapped up within 15-20 seconds. The band runs the same formula for the duration of the track. One of the songs released as a single comes in “We are the Beautiful”. A big, thunderous drum sound with the big riffed guitars throw up that wall of sound at the start. As the vocals start everything seems to settle back some, until the chorus kicks in. The vocals are brooding, but never forced. There is hints of female backing vocals which add a nice touch. For a band that has the spacy feel at times, this is a driving track. The drums are heavy, but the guitars are not at the same intensity as “Summer's Gone” begins. Once the vocals begin everyone settles back some. Barrett has a swooping bass line and Rowe and Sheriff seem to find a comfort zone. We get more of a techno beat for the track “Everytime”. The drum click seems to speed up some as the band joins in. Again, Barrett walks up and down the bass before the guitars strike. Again, the vocals are breathy and laid back which actually works okay with the temp of the track. There is a longer instrumental break down on this track before the looping drum track returns and the guitars come back in. The last minute plus is the same driving drum loop with a guitar solo over the top. The track fades directly in to “Deli”. After a bit of atmospherics a lengthy spoken word portion is spoken and the band seems to start to join. There appears, so it seems, to be a tabla being used (perhaps electronically manipulated). Other than the spoken word portion the track remains vocal free as the band is slow to really go anywhere with the track. The samples are the cornerstone of the track but you feel the band could have taken this song further. We continue with a tribal drum feel as “On the Way to Fly” begins. A long guitar slowly builds and with one crash the others join in. There are noticeable backing vocals in the track as “oohs” and “ahhs” add to the sound scape. The three guitars seem to go in various directions with various results. One is deeper, driving while the second rings over and the third chimes with the bass. The vocals are lush once more and the track has that infectious beat that holds your attention. Another song released as a single follows in “She's A Vision”. The guitars start off and the drums clack a mechanical beat, but the vocals sound great. “Greater Power” is slow to get off the ground and you wait for close to a minute before you are shocked awake. This is about as rocking a track as we've heard from the shoegazers. The vocals are strong and the music becomes this great wonderful wall of sound. A really solid example of the bands capabilities and sound. The bass continues to really shine (to these ears) and the band is very much firing off one another. Barrett rings out a few bass notes as “Confusion Trip” begins. We go back to the acoustic guitars once that comes in but the electrics are layered over. It has full sound but seems to be a little too slow for the music. The album concludes with “Love Forever”, a track that has a flowing back beat and it relies heavily on the percussive instruments. Again it feels very much the same, with the repeated guitar lines and vocal verses. It never seems to go anywhere. It sounds “okay” but sort of a let down for a closer.

Where are they now? - The band fell dormant after this record for a decade and a half. The guys would go off to their projects and their records would be out of print for many years. In 2008 they started to play some shows and in 2010 they did a few short tours. A US Tour was postponed due to the Icelandic Volcanic Ash cloud and then rescheduled. There is no news on new music from the band.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I only saw the band once. Paradise in Boston opening for the WonderStuff. It was February 23, 1994. One of the biggest things I remember about the show was that it was snowing like crazy, all day. The show was on, then off, then on again. My buddy Jay and his girlfriend at the time picked me up and we headed in. The venue was pretty empty due to the weather, but we made it. Long ride to and from, but I recall it being a pretty darn fun show.

FDF Overall Take – There are some real strong moments on this record. She's a Vision and We are the Beautiful are stand out tracks for sure and there are a lot of “shoegaze” tendencies. Chances are you are or were aware of the band. Not a lot out there, but worth checking out for some spacy early 90's alt rock.

Official Site

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Don't Look Now

She's a Vision

We are the Beautiful (Live)

The album was out of print, then reissued. Might not be super easy to find, but if oyu look at places like this you'll be all set.


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