Cobalt Chapel – Orange Synthetic album review

30 11 2020

Yorkshire psychedelic duo Cobalt Chapel (Cecilia Fage from Matt Berry & The Maypoles & Jarrod Gosling from I Monster) are releasing their new album Orange Synthetic on 29th Jan 2021.

Orange Synthetic is the second full studio album from the duo, following on from their debut and its companion album, Variants.

Orange Synthetic is music grounded in the Yorkshire earth: its people, the surrounding nature, landscape, and its mythology, from the distant past to modern life. The story of the Krumlin Festival captures something about this island in its disaster – how you can start out with a dream and end up wrapped in a survival blanket, suffering from exposure, on a cold, wet Pennine hillside. It’s an image which reflects the lost, end-of-days feeling of where we’re at now.” (Cecilia Fage & Jarrod Gosling)

The album opens with In Company, a dark tale inspired by the 80s Neil Jordan gothic fantasy film The Company of Wolves and the story of the writer Angela Carter and her wartime experiences.

Organs fizzle and swirl over a rolling drum pattern and layers of lead and background vocals, setting the scene for the whole album. This is the duo at their most commercial, with a chorus that stays with you long after the song has ended.

The Sequel explores the creative process of writing and connecting with an audience. I could imagine this song being used as an alternative theme tune for Tales of the Unexpected. Vinyl crackles and guitar lines buried deep within the mix see the song out, as Message To rushes in. The pace is increased a little for this song of escape.

“I’ll be your hostage”

I love the psychedelic twists and turns in the arrangement, especially the heavily processed lo-fi loops that weave their way in and out of the stereo field.

A Father’s Lament tells of a family who have lost all their children, as if cursed. The bass and drums drive the song, as it evolves and mutates throughout its fairly short life. This is one of the album’s most engaging performances from vocalist Cecilia Fage.

Our Angel Polygon has a crisp, sharp arrangement and was inspired by RAF Fylingdales on the North Yorkshire Moors, and its tales of listening in to Cold War communications. The chorus of Our Angel Polygon is “We are watching”, which is a translation of the RAF Stations motto “Vigilamus”.

The versions of In Company and Our Angel Polygon on the album are the full takes, not the edits released as digital singles earlier in 2020.

Cry A Spiral is underpinned by a soft bossa nova beat, before giving way to deep bass and frenetic drums. One of the more avant-garde pieces on the album, Cry A Spiral harks back to the sound and style of the first album.

It’s The End, The End is a lively musical bazaar stuffed to the brim with discordant, acid keyboard washes and choral vocals. As soon as you get comfortable with the arrangement, it shape-shifts into something even more obtuse, and is a fitting accompaniment to the apocalyptic lyrical content.

Jarrod’s vintage keyboards take centre stage on Pretty Mire, Be My Friend with its extended instrumental section that propel the song to its delightful finish, as guitar and keyboards get caught in a duel to the death.

The twisted folklore that ran through the veins of the debut album from Cobalt Chapel returns on E.B. Another fine vocal performance from Cecilia Fage, that propels you down a time tunnel to a long-lost era. This is pure escapism, and highlights the power of good music to take you away from your stresses and worries, and transport you to another world, even if its just for 40 minutes or so. And how we need that, in this of all years.

The album ends with its title track, the longest piece on the album, and an early favourite for me. Telling the story of an infamous music festival from 1970, that was left in ruins due to the extreme Pennine weather.

“How does it feel, disappointment”

The powerful insistent drums and infectious (sorry to be so 2020) guitar lines jostle for your attention with keyboard riffs that build and give a feeling of stormy weather wreaking havoc upon those caught in the open, with no shelter within reach.

Orange Synthetic is an altogether more consistent release than Cobalt Chapel’s debut, and holds together so well as a complete album. The psychedelia that runs through the duo’s music remains, but with an increased emphasis on melodies that seep into your heart.

If you ever find yourself lost on the North York Moors, Orange Synthetic will be your company until your rescue surely arrives. Just save some battery life to call for help.

Pre-order Cobalt Chapel – Orange Synthetic from Amazon

Pre-order Cobalt Chapel – Orange Synthetic (orange vinyl) from the official store

In Company
The Sequel
Message To
A Father’s Lament
Our Angel Polygon
Cry A Spiral
It’s The End, The End
Pretty Mire, Be My Friend
E.B.
Orange Synthetic

Words and Music by Cecilia Fage & Jarrod Gosling.
Cecilia Fage: Vocals, choral arrangements, recorders, clarinets.
Jarrod Gosling: Organs, Mellotron, electric pianos, tone generator, effects, drums, percussion, guitars, bass, tape loops, glockenspiel, flute.
Nick Gosling: Guitars


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