The Bad Elephant Music label has now been one of my favorites this year. With not just The Fierce and the Dead, Trojan Horse, The Rube Goldberg Machine, Matthew Parmenter, and Mike Kershaw to name a few. It’s always looking through to see what the label would cook up something special in their experiments of interesting releases. One of them has landed on my lap is a five-piece symphonic progressive rock band from London called The Far Meadow.
They have released their second album this year entitled, Given the Impossible and with a different line-up change it considers; Marguerita Aleandrou on Lead Vocals, Paul Bringloe on Drums, Keith Buckman on Bass, Eliot Minn, and Denis Warren on Guitar. I can hear influences between Magenta, Yes, Cardiacs, Moulettes, MoeTar, U.K., and Frank Zappa.
The music is comprehensive, wacky, and vivid. For me, Marguerita is very much like a new Captain of the ship as she takes the listener on The Far Meadow’s ship to explore other worlds. Prove It Then opens the album with a gentle walking acoustic folky melody. The lyrics are very Randy Newman-sque before resonating with the drums and guitars before seguing into Hang On.
It makes you feel that you are embarking for lift-off with melodic and weird rhythmic beats thanks to the odd time signatures they would do as Marg and Eliot share a vocal in one of the sections of the compositions. It has a Knifeworld direction. Eliot’s vocals comes to mind at times of Kavus Torabi in that little moment. Then the Industry knocks the door down with a hardcore punch.
It feels like The Far Meadow recorded this composition in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse or on a flying ship with a Danny Elfman approach a-la Zappa and Cardiacs with the Moulettes thrown into place. Keith’s Bass is the engine and the engine sounds like going through a clockwork museum as Marg’s voice resembles Christina Booth (Magenta) and Moorea Dickason (MoeTar). The Piano concertos to Yes-like synths it’s one of those moments that you makes you want more.
I also love in the song Dinosaurs where in the midsection of the piece Warren is honoring the styles of Robert Fripp thanks to Eliot’s swirling synths and channeling the twists and turns of the eras of King Crimson’s Red and THRAK while A Gentle Warrior is dealing the story about the Bombe machines of the Wrens (WRNS) at Bletchley Park. It was a electromechanical device that was ahead of its time, that was used during the First Battle of the Atlantic with decoding Naval Enigma messages by helping with allied forces against U-boats.
The music itself tells the story about what was going on as keyboards at times bring to mind a Pan Flute a-la Gheorghe Zamfir. The 15-minute epic, Himalaya Flashmob is a conceptual piece about an adventurer who challenges herself to climb a peak up in the mountains of the Himalayas. But the challenges she goes through are difficult with a limited low on oxygen and deteriorating rapidly in the worst conditions. But she’s not alone.
I love how there are Yes-like boundaries in there but the mysterious midsection, in the ambient scenario, we have moving piano improvisation from Eliot as Eric goes into survival mode on his guitar with a Gilmour-sque vibe in the essence of Pink Floyd in their later years. The band give Eliot a chance to go into some soft, warm, jazz improve of a ballad with a tribute to the late great Keith Emerson as Buckman’s Bass is waiting for the moon to rise on Letterboxing.
The Seamless Shirt is the finale on the album. Not only it pays homage to Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair for a few minutes, but the beats are driven and armed to go for one more drive to see where The Far Meadow will had into next. Given the Impossible might be worth you alley that you might want to take note to see where they have come a long way and this is an album that not just took me by surprise but it almost made me want to go again, again, and again.
All in all, an album that is worth checking out and highly a must listen to album if you love not just the wacky side to The Far Meadow's music, but a symphonic and driven beat.