Kaprekar's Constant - Fate Outsmarts Desire,
I must confess, I have been listening to progressive rock music for more than 40 years now, and there have been times when I have treated the lyrics more as an additional instrument than important words (I mean, have you studied ‘Tales of Topograhpic Oceans’?). This time, however, I felt emotionally vested in what was going on, so much so that driving and listening started to become a difficult, of not dangerous, task. The second song on the album is “Blue Bird”, and tells the story of Malcolm Campbell, and his endeavours to break the land speed record. From a young age, I was fascinated with cars, and the first piece of school work I can remember completing was a project on the great Graham Hill sometime in the Sixties. Many years later and we were living in Dorking and decided to go to a Sunday market in Weybridge, not too far away. It was only when we arrived that I realised we were inside the famous Brooklands racing track, and the curved bank I had seen so many times on grainy black and white film. By the time the eighteen-minute-long song had ended, I was fully invested, both in the lyrics and in the music, which owes so much to classic Seventies pastoral progressive rock, and to the way that multi-instrumentalists Al Nicholson and Nick Jefferson have brought together an incredible bunch of people to work on the album.
But, if I had felt a connection with that song, track 4 really brought it home. The song is called “Hallsands”, and is the story of a village destroyed by authorities deciding that the sand that protected the cliffs would be better off at Devonport Naval Base, and ignored the locals who said that it would undermine them. These days there a few ruins left, filled with memories of those who were there. Why the connection? Well, although my dad was a foreigner in Brixham, where I am from, as he was born at Bolt Head (all of 30 miles away), I can trace my family from my mother’s side through generations of trawlermen. And, some of them had actually come from Hallsands. I remember being taken there more than 40 years ago and being told the story, never expecting to hear it immortalised in song, and certainly never expecting to hear said song now that I am living on the other side of the world!
I had already fallen in love with the album, with stunning performances from all involved (including the wonderful David Jackson from VDGG), yet the “Pathé News Reel”-style spoken passages and the breathy vocals let alone the strong lyrics, make this a very special album indeed. Go to their website to find out more, at http://www.kaprekarsconstant.com/, but take it from me this is a very special album, and makes my personal Top Ten for 2017.