A substantial aspect of DROME is the matter of time, so appropriate then that its first listen transports me back to the mid seventies and a trip up North to see relatives which included a visit to the fabled Yorkshire Dales.
Nothing of the actual visit remains in memory beyond it being uneventful. It’s all the things said about the place by family members beforehand that spring to mind. The potential for heavy mists to suddenly descend and leave anyone there disorientated on the vast expanse of open land hard enough to navigate at the best of times.
Woe betide anyone caught in those mists at night, lost and forced to face the cold spectres of those succumbing to the harsh elements prior; a breathless place of horses ridden by headless bodies looming suddenly through the heavy swirl, only just stopping in front of the wretched astray to rear and neigh.
This is the vision DROME immediately creates.
Except DUIR! are not from Yorkshire, but Lincolnshire—a place that a look at a map tells me I’ve never visited, not even to drive through, though am now sure, thanks to DROME, has areas of likewise expanse—and there’s also a lot more to the album than the conjuring of unsettling apparitions.
DUIR! (the exclamation mark a new addition to distinguish from another band) is Simon Brighton, Stephen Coalwood and Terry Welbourn; and DROME its third album. Guest appearances come from Katie Jacques, Steve Bothamley, Steve Orient and the legend that is Edgar Broughton (track ‘By Hook or By Crook’ above).
DROME a is carnival of sound that paints images of grinning types in top hats and fingerless gloves holding open flaps to tents while inviting all to roll-up and step inside if they dare savour the wonders awaiting within.
Each track has its own personality to the point of making it as difficult to tie DUIR! down to genres as it would be to corral the dark rearing horse above. Though its own choice of description—Glam-Folk with Post-Punk attitude—certainly has its merits; before being aware of it, the beat and tempo of track ‘Bardney Riots’ put me happily in mind of the glorious Sweet.
Elsewhere I found myself thinking, ‘now I know what Duran Duran might’ve sounded like if going in a Prog direction’ thanks not just to the sound but more so the incredible Simon Le Bon-esque vocal tones on tracks like ‘The Whistling Girl’ and ‘Drome (On Borrowed Time)’.
While supplying subtly haunting backing vocals to the ‘The Whistling Girl’, track ‘Heavy Thursday’ puts the voice of Katie Jacques front and centre with a result nothing short of thoroughly uplifting while equally firmly rooted in the Gothic.
‘Icehouse Blues’ and ‘Peters Big Day Out’ take the listener another direction with spoken word; for DROME is a carnival that doesn’t stop giving and never disappoints; a sequence of mini rock operas, a Lincolnshire take on The Wickerman far more in tune with the original film than any recent remake.
And as for the tales it tells and weaves along the merry, though often chilling, way, they are yet another layer waiting to be discovered beyond the music alone. For words are not used in folly by DUIR!, instead they are thought on, considered, researched. These tales are not just fashioned from fantasy, but more so steeped in Lincolnshire legend and lore.
A quick search online reveals very little about the ‘Bardney Riots’ but it turns up just enough to know the event was real; a serious consequence of a fight over bread.
There’s no need to rely on the internet, though: the CD comes with a pull-out explaining the story behind each track. So rich in fable is every song, each could be given a review of its own. I could go on, I really could, but that would risk spoiling the circus for everyone else.
Whether it be listening while searching the net for answers, using the guide supplied or even musing over the info given with each track on bandcamp, the depths of DROME afford the listener numerous opportunities to delve and become immersed in another time and way of life.
With the harsh chill of winter fast on the way—cold rain from a solid grey sky hammers the windows as I write—DROME is the perfect feet-up fireside companion to get lost in while indulging a favourite tipple or three. Just don’t be surprised when the songs are still working their magic through next summer too.
My sincere thanks to DUIR! for the opportunity to review DROME; an album that doesn’t just excel musically, but equally reignites the fire in heritage that otherwise might’ve been forgotten.
Thanks for reading 🙂
N. P. Ryan
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