A Trace of Memory by Sanguine HumRelease date: November 20, 2020
Label: Bad Elephant Music
It’s been two years since Sanguine Hum have released a new album after their 2018 release, Now We Have Power which concludes the story of Don’s adventure from the 2015 release, Now We Have Light. Again, while we’re living in tricky times, Sanguine Hum always puts music as the number 1 priority to clear our heads on what’s been going on since March of 2020.
That and their fifth studio album on the Bad Elephant label entitled A Trace of Memory sees the Oxford group heading towards a progressive return with some lukewarm approaches of electronic, jazz, and minimal-classical music by dealing with the harsh realities on the loss of childhood innocence. And the six highlights that are on their latest release, are seeing the signs of growing up and moving forward in the next chapter of the band’s creativity.
‘Thin Air’ sets sail on a course to unknown worlds with different time changes as the guitars transform into seagulls while the keyboards play this Terry Riley-sque loop before ‘Unstable Ground’ goes into these harsher tones that can reveal Sanguine Hum’s darker side with the bass channeling the introduction of Pink Floyd’s ‘Careful with that Axe, Eugene’.
What they did here was to make their guitars by playing chutes and ladders inside and ignoring what is happening on the news, never knowing when the war and nightmare will end. The opener, ‘New Light’ is like a rise-and-shine atmosphere that starts a brand new day before going into the 13-minute epic, ‘The Yellow Ship’.
The opening guitars, bass, and drums are sung like a melody as if they honoring two classics; Gomez’s ‘We Haven’t Turned Around’ and Mercury Rev’s ‘Holes’. It’s a sailing adventure that travels into the loss of innocence as the last 9 minutes handles some of these mind-blowing arrangements for guitars to up and down the escalators between the Canterbury and Jazz Fusion sound with intensive drumming, and electric keyboards walking into different circles in various formats.
‘Pyramids’ sees the keyboards and vocals sharing a melody together. It’s a return to the parallel universe as you head into the Egyptian tombs to go through various doors to see where the next constant will be. And it is a rising section in the song to calm your inner selves and know that it isn’t going to be pretty. ‘Still as the Sea’ is a return to the old memories once more and the chance to move forwards. You can imagine this being a movie inside your head as you return to the old abandoned house that once was, is now a heap of rubble, and knowing that there’s no turning back once you leave. But there is some nice Vince Guaraldi sections by Baber himself by channeling the score sessions from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
A Trace of Memory is like looking back through the good old days you had when you were a child. And it is hard to see that it’s no longer there anymore in the future. Joff Winks can really hits those notes very well. And he’s not just an incredible singer, but like a conductor, and a storyteller. He gives the listener an insight to the smaller pieces of memory inside your pocket and throw away all of the bad stuff that has happened. And while it may be difficult, it could help you understand the smaller pieces of the puzzle have remained a mystery for many, many years.