Music Review//Bulbs – ON

Neil Campbell is known for his musical talent and his latest project, following a duo album entitled Perri & Neil in 2012, is the long awaited debut release from the distinctly more Prog orientated Bulbs project alongside Andy Maslivec, Joey Zeb and Marty Snape.

The first thing that strikes the listener on picking up - (Yes, a physical cd!) - the album is that a cover artwork, a perfect companion to the dark tones of the music, interlaced with conspiracy fuelled voice samples and guitar lines that say much in their pace and thought fuelled movement. The striking image of a micro chipped hand seemingly signalling the lift off of a passenger jet in the background  is one that you can read much significance into – but the matter remains of listening to the equally thought provoking music first!

The four piece band produce sounds with a power that is greater than their sum and it’s on the opener Lament that the journey begins – a moody intro that shifts gradually into higher gears and bridges into the futuristic drama of Frankincensed. It’s here the album kicks into full gear, the electronic samples providing a sonic bed to the bass, guitar and drums that make up the rest of the band. As we move further on Majestic takes the vibes down low, to an atmospheric chill out zone lead by Campbell’s ever excellent guitar playing.

“I think we’re all going to wake up one day and realise we’ve all been too relaxed…” is the quote that opens the Illuminate, and it’s political metaphor soon makes its presence felt in the epic  but elegantly down played film score like music that makes the track so, well, illuminating. As with much of the album it lulls the listener into a sense of musical peace and then jumps at you with something new without warning.

There are quiet moments, such as the contemplative, almost meditational Lantra, and more sonically liberated passages such as the hypnotic They Control the Weather or the all out assault on the ears that Future Cities launches on the senses in such a perfect manner. It’s something akin to hiding around a corner waiting to jump out on an unsuspecting someone – but distinctly more melodic! 

As we reach the albums close we get a distinctly soulful number entitled A Very Good Friday that carries a sense of come down finality with it in the playful instrumental conversation it engages you in. As the come down occurs, we get the quietly celebratory 3572 OFF – a nice bookend to the album that does the thing that all good closers must do – make you listen all over again! If you’ve seen Bulbs live before then you’ll know that this is an experience to be treasured in many ways – this is a band that lights up even the darkest of rooms, and not just by their name!

Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan. 

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