Pagoda Project’s Clarion: piano accordion and saxes a go-go

13th April 2016

Title: Clarion

Label: Sylvafield

There’s a distinct flavour of Captain Pugwash from the first few seconds of the first track of this LP that is decidely unsettling which then, very surprisingly, switches to the slinky nonchalance of a clarinet into the soundstage which immediately moves the music from children’s television directly into a Parisian night club some time during the late 30s…maybe.

That, my friends, is Pagoda Project: a piano accordion and clarinets. Yes, plural. There’s a lazy, slightly sleazy and often edgy sense to the instrumental music that pervades this often atmospheric LP and, despite the fact that we are talking English in terms of its proponents and its production, the sense of the continental and, more than that, the nostalgic flavour of noir history is palpable. The music could easily revert to your basic English folk but, no, there’s something else here which adds an exotic flavour. And it’s that clarinet(s).

The people behind the noise is Paul Hutchinson, a well known English folkie (who was part of the award nominated Belshazzar’s Feast) and Karen Wimhurst. I think that Wimhurst’s penchant for the experimental gives this LP its spice. Her avant stylings and wish to veer off into the lefter field of music folk allows the music to seep into stranger waters which adds life and, yes, fun to the music as a whole.

In audiophile terms, I am happy to report that the mastering has been completed with a sense of care. There are no uncontrolled frequencies shining bright lights on the midrange for unleashing a bloomy bass on proceedings. Both instruments, in fact, can be liable to dramatic car crash moments if the mastering is not up to scratch.

That top notch mastering and the unusual approach to the arrangements make this piece…different. I like different.