Stepmother - Calvary Greetings (CD Megaphone/Knoc ‘em Dead Records)

Interesting one-off apparently helmed by Megaphone stalwart, Bill Gilonis, who co-founded The Work in 1980 and whose credits include working with Robert Wyatt, Zeena Parkins, Charles Hayward, David Thomas and the usual suspects to be lurking amongst the fringes of the improv and art music worlds. Given all that, it’s perhaps not surprising that Calvary Greetings blends everything from the kinda bizarro surf Cordelia Records often prescribe to avant-blues, improvised rock and skewed soundtrack work. Whilst easy enough to succumb to the universe conjured up by this post-Captain Beefheart/Zappa/Henry Cow enterprise, and all of its inherent ‘weirdness’, such music often alienates with the slightly muso-strained, ‘cleverer-than-thou’, sensibility also to be found amongst its obvious roots in Prog. There’s a lot to enjoy here, plus it’s difficult to not appreciate the ideas spiralling in any number of directions even on one song, but for all of that something feels rather stilted or perhaps just a little too contrived. This itself creates the kinda barrier I’d prefer to see smashed down in whatever I’m listening to. RJ.