I love music and every once in a while something comes along and surprises you. This is another one introduced to me by the Lords & Ladies of a Facebook Group (it is good for something), thanks guys!
Tiger Moth Tales is the brainchild of Peter Jones, 2004 X Factor finalist, but I shall discard my prejudices (never seen it, never want to), and besides some talented musicians of my acquaintance have been for the auditions…so, Peter wanted an avenue for his music that wasn’t the norm, where he could utilise other musicians in a band format. Having said that, the majority of the instrumentation is played by him, in his words I didn’t have the nerve to ask. It doesn’t matter, this is a beautiful album. He cites his influences on the sleeve notes as Genesis, Steve Hackett, Queen, from the “past” & Frost*, Big Big Train, Haken, and someone I will have to look up, Roine Stolt.
The artwork harps back to the album covers of the early seventies, more Anthony Phillips than Steve Hackett, both pastoral and slightly disturbing, good work by the artist, Neil Martin, I warmed to the album even before opening the jewel case.
Overture. Every track on the album is highlighted on this introductory piece, a menu for delights to come, but fluidly held together rather than a trailer for a film with all the best bits. Already from this you can see that a number of styles have been woven together to form the narrative.
The music is a smorgasbord, both bucolic, and then, at times angry, but it is meant to reflect childhood, and by using the moods does so.
Divided into seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn (Fall) & Winter, each a short introduction reflecting childhood memories, and possibly growing up in the countryside. If anything, it highlights how important that the senses other than sight are to our development. The season also work as a metaphor for the passage of time.
Spring, leads into a narrative, Children’s TV story style, Jackanory for those of us with UK backgrounds, outlining the third track The Isle of Witches. Steve Hackett’s influence is strong here, back to the earlier albums, Voyage Of The Acolyte, and my personal favourite, Please Don’t Touch. It is a story, very much like the fairy tales of old. All the tricks, all the twists, heavy guitar, hungry bass, wailing sax, and eastern music, that’s far eastern, not Norfolk. Combined with a certain English eccentricity, very Rick Wakeman.
Summer comes, Mr Whippy arrives, and days on the beach, such soundscapes. Tigers In The Butter, possibly inevitable if you told elephant in the fridge jokes as a child. Peter has given his own explanation for this, so not for me to re-interpret. Though the synopsis is the imagination and its playful uses. Very Mr Hackett in places, but Mr Jones admits to using his influences to drive his music forward. There is so much going on here, little vignettes of childhood and halcyon days, almost to the point where you feel you are reliving those moments, but childhood changes, we move on, and those days cannot last forever.
The First Lament, not getting your own way, lost love, I don’t know, but I feel it. An instrumental that seems to speak of regret.
Autumn, fireworks, bonfires, and a feeling of cosseted warmth and into more nostalgia.
The Merry Vicar, absolutely wonderful, barking mad, eccentric, and if you were lucky growing up in England, you may just of come across one of these characters. Musically, it’s Steve Hackett with a little Rick Wakeman/Tony Banks in the bridge. This, despite its eccentricities is my personal favourite, a jolly tune that leads into the laid back memories of the next track. Peter Jones refers to this as the albums most upbeat track, this one loosely based on a family friend. Then I think even the most melancholic of the tracks are imbued with a hint of optimism.
If you were bought up with the works of Oliver Postgate, this will really resonate with you. Chigwick being the combined conurbations of Camberwick Green, Trumpton, & Chigley, and the characters from those programmes that informed our childhoods, idyllic, bucolic and pastoral. Again the theme is the passage of youth, and the music pastiches the music of those programmes. The music also seems to me to cover every Genesis album from Trespass to Wind & Wuthering, motifs, not copied but reflective as the piece progresses.
Winter; sharing both the warmth of winter and the dark of the season, these little bridges using the seasons are metaphors for our passage through childhood, it’s clever. It works for me.
Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright, is the last track, the transition from boy to man, evocative with a slight melancholy feel but also hopeful, the child has formed the man I have become, and a request, to hold on to the innocence & imagination of childhood.
This is a wonderful album, balanced and progressive, a heart on the sleeve album, and if you want the background behind the songs, then they are available on Bandcamp.
Genesis, Big Big Train, and the others, if you like them, buy it! More about Peter Jones, & Tiger Moth Tales, use the links below, it’s interesting, a great prog debut.
01. Overture (4:32)
02. Spring (0:34)
03. The Isle Of Witches (11:03)
04. Summer (0:29)
05. Tigers In The Butter (14:54)
06. Autumn (0:30)
07. The Merry Vicar (6:40)
08. A Visit To Chigwick (8:50)
09. Winter (0:45)
10. Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright (13:32)
Total Time – 69:36
Peter Jones – Vocals, Keyboards & Drum Programming, Talkbox, Guitars, Saxophone, Whistles, Sarod, Zither, Melodica, Bells & Percussion
Mark Wardle – Flugelhorn
Record Label: White Knight Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 15th December 2014