Every so often a line arrives in a song that quite literally makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand-up. For example, when I first heard Grateful Dead’s “Ripple” it had the spine tingling Robert Hunter line, “let it be known there is a fountain, that was not made by the hands of men.” It's a truly magnificent and timeless lyric.
When I listened to UK prog rock band Konchordat’s English Ghosts album something similar happened. Firstly, the instrumental “Prelude” warms the senses for a journey that can only be described as epic. It leads to the acoustic introduction to “The Human Element”, a track that acts as a powerful illustration of the intelligent, thought provoking material that English Ghosts contains.
It opens with the scene setting “channel all your thoughts, to see an idol carved in flesh and bone”, proving instantly that this is an album worth reaching for the lyrics and listening to in depth.
Then it arrives. In one instant the line, “forever guided by an unseen hand" provoked that same spine tingling cold rush through my veins that "Ripple" still produces. From that moment my total attention was confirmed.
With vocalist, drummer Lee Harding often sounding like Greg Lake they venture into the epic scale made legend by E.L.P. and others. Steve Cork’s bass and keys paint vivid pictures as the thoughtful lyrics role forth.
Guitar is covered by guests Stuart Martin, Phil Spence, and Oz Craggs all of which add to the overall high quality musicianship. The name Konchordat proves itself to be an accurate description of a band with a shared and powerful musical vision. The result is an uplifting, stylish, and ambitious work to be proud of.
The excellent lyrics on English Ghosts, which was self produced, are written by Lee Harding. Together with Steve Cork, Konchordat successfully puts the Kent coastal town of Margate firmly on the prog rock map.
The pair have an undoubted ability to create magnificent, stately, monumental moments that remain as uplifting on the twentieth play as they were on the first.
“Consequences” provides more deep thinking moments whilst it weaves a myriad of cleverly constructed patterns. “No Words” creates a gentle atmosphere for the appreciation of love. It is a track that remained entrenched in my psyche long after it had faded from my headphones.
These successfully light the path for the monumental title track itself. Its three parts, “Waking The Dead”, “English Ghosts” , and “Laying The Ghosts To Rest”, all link effortlessly together to provide a towering nineteen minute centre piece.
The scene is set with tolling bells before the recurring theme rises from the mist to build into a masterful piece of progressive music. The image created by “lemures vadum ingredior orbis terrarium” or “the ghosts shall walk the earth” again highlights the scale and imagination behind their brave ambition.
Konchordat somehow manage to follow it with three more impressive tracks. The memorable “Motion”, and “The Road Goes Ever On” maintain the quality, whilst a nicely moving “Coda” closes the album with a track showcasing a slightly rockier style.
English Ghosts is a triumph of an album that has arrived atop a recent rich spell of some of the best progressive rock albums from the UK that I have covered here on Eurorock, in a long time.