Census Of Hallucinations - "The 8th Dwarf" (Stone Premonitions SPCD-039 2003)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: November 2003
This is definitely CoH's best, most consistent album since The Fourth Dimension. The three releases between had occasional tracks of brilliance of course, but this is one that's a joy to play straight through. "Feel It" is a basic rock song with Tim Jones' gorgeous guitar licks all over the place while the Tim and Terri~B duet whisper their soft words of inspiration, time and unity. The album's most brightly shining star no doubt is the lengthier "Sunlight Through Autumn Leaves", co-written and apparently performed mostly by the mysterious Paddi. It begins with a heavenly choir and spacious licks that'll make you want to weep. After the gentle groove kicks in, you WILL cry when you hear this chorus of simple beauty, or you've got no soul at all. The words deal with current political stuff (i.e. President Bush) and the preservation of the earth and its inhabitants. I don't believe this lot will ever give up the fight. Not at all in contrast but indeed in congress with such seriousness is the usual smatterings of goofiness and antics mixed in as excerpts throughout. But how to describe "Capstone Dwellers" - it's another timeless moment of brilliant originality from the Census - offerings of more global import from the cosmic eye - single-syllable bursts of the space-couple (assisted in harmony by the Bishop-Bashing Nuns?) - building space loops and effects... becoming aware of a near desperation in the gasps of Tim's voice, so then Terri~B takes it over and out with her soul-singing style. Tim has his best blues vocal yet on the brief but heavy, bassy "Into Gear". "Mazed and Mystified" appeared on the last album but is more enjoyable here in the context of a great album - classic space-pop in the Census style, with a hint of reggae that so many Brit psyche groups tap into, consciously or otherwise. "Cotton Pickin' Chicken Shit Pie"? Why is it only on a silly 30-second hillbilly piss-take that Terri~B gets a true lead-vocal? Oh well, better check out the solo album again. "Pupper Masters" has Tim's patented up-the-frets riffing and a loopy nursery-rhyme chorus by all the wacky whimsical voices about punk-toughs out "all on a Saturday night". "The Goal that's Set Beyond Football" moves through several phases - Tim's intently angry rant, another great nursery-rhyme bit with the old git and crazed nuns, along the way pointing out once again the presence of the demonic amphibeous puppet-masters hiding in the wings or under rocks.
Characteristically things return from the rants and desperation of warbled voices and information and back to the simple pop of "War is Not the Way". "Begin Again" is Census originality, including Cousin Silas on pen and programming. Tim delivers another pissed rant on top of strange Latin-sounding chants, and of course the usual keys and guitar, but it all ends with a quaint Irish limerick of sorts. "Shine" reprises "Sunlight" with one last rant from the daft old git. It seems silly to point out the Gong influence again, since CoH have long since taken some basic patterns of musical approach by Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth into the unique foundations of their own, but every review has to have the obligatory capitalized band-name ringing out, just in case you're merely scanning these tedious sentences anyway. Well, that was supposed to be the end of the album... I'm glad I slipped this disc from Jerry's stack of review-CDs... for all the reasons above, but as much because the 8 minutes of silence at the end might finally have driven him over the edge... though I think the silence kinda grows on ya and even has a bit of the Census touch in it... anyway, what comes after that is what I'll call the "Bloody Fucking Wankers" jam and leave the rest to curiosity. The Daves Pipkin and Mclean on drums and bass, respectively.
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Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg