cheval sombre

Cheval Sombre
Cheval Sombre
Double Feature

Indeed much admired in these here pages and by our reckoning something quite perfect for reclining and chilling out to during these warm sultry summer nights. That said deepest apologies are somewhat overdue to Mr Christopher Porpora for it is he who is Cheval Sombre given that we’ve had this CD now for a fair few weeks with endless promises of a review being sighted via various blog updates without the said appraisal ever appearing

Already the cause of much celebration in these pages following a brace of outings for Static Caravan including an ultra limited long since deleted lathe release plus a follow up standard vinyl package ’I found it not so’ whose flip featured a re-working of the Holland / Dozier / Holland classic ’where did our love go’ which in our much humbled opinion really does need to be heard to be believed. In addition there’s also been a rare as hen’s teeth vinyl appearance via the ever excellent Trensmat imprint (which reminds me we have three releases via its sister label Nub to mention in near future despatches) which in typical fashion flew the coup in the blink of eye gathering along the way some much deserved acclaim.

And so to ‘Cheval Sombre’ the eagerly awaited debut full length. As mentioned earlier this should have by rights been reviewed ages ago but – well – truth of the matter is – its so bloody gorgeous that at times we’d forgotten the whole reason behind us getting sent it in the first place was that we at some point would review it, in fact we even received an email at one point from Mr Porpora recommending that it was best listened to whilst going on a long walk and to be honest he has a point, because viewed overall these eleven tracks do have an element of the incidental about them, the way they flutter, flicker and glide unobtrusively, there’s no demanding of attention on your part while for their side of the bargain there’s an affecting casually discreet lull and lilt about their demeanour, their aura divinely spectral, trippy almost comatose casting a beautified though reserved intimacy.

Featuring the enviable talents of space cadet and former Spaceman 3 pilot Sonic Boom as well as Britta Phillips and Dean Wareham (former Galaxie 500 and Luna personnel who these days ply their trade as Dean and Britta and who incidentally have an album out that we really must try and nail for review), ‘Cheval Sombre’ is without doubt breathlessly elegant in its restraint and poise, its only when you hear all the tracks in one listening hit that you realise that in essence that the collection is something of a kosmik love note. Non more so is this best evidenced than on ‘I sleep’. perhaps one of the most touching love songs heard by these ears in such an age, its delicate balancing between its yearning and its aching is at the very least exquisite laid as it is upon a bed sprinkled by the haloing of a hymnal hush that’s sweetly tethered with a gorgeously lazy eyed softly caressed riff opining which ultimately endows it with a majestic and stately spectral breeze. Equally arresting is ’I found it not so’ with its twinkling star gazing loop cycles and bliss laced mirages assuming a daydreaming wispiness which at times lends itself to the Beatles ’dear prudence’ then there’s the chilled calibrations of the transcendental mind weaving hypnotics of ’little bit of heaven’ with its sublimely woven lazily hazy Arabesque mantras.

There’s no denying that the blood line from which ’Cheval Sombre’ is drawn takes its initial cue from Galaxie 500, the melodies possessed of an almost somnambulant aura appear like suspended serenades, soft psyche fondants tweaked in softly brushed kaleidoscopic shades, scratch a little deeper and the Velvets begin to shimmer into view along with Donovan (most notably on the hiccupping reverb soaked ’I get around’) as does the gaseous glide like opiated orchestrations of Sunray in his more mesmeric moments. These melodic murmurs are delicately slender and slight in detail all the time dispatching their hallucinogenic spell charms, from the orbiting recline of the mellowing honey toned ’hyacinth house’ – a cover of an old Doors nugget done with such easy eyed panache that you deeply suspect its either been smoking quality wacky backy or else has been sedated to the sumptuously lolloping ’I found it not so’ with its wasted and out of it snaking slide mooches, Porpora and Co cocoon you in their gossamer glaze briefly breaking free for the ambling and mountain side woodiness of ’I’ve been all around this world’ with its sighing slides and porch lit countrified sleepy headedness. Though for us it’s the softly stirred parting shot ’the strangest thought I never had’ that wins the plaudits hand down, replete with lullaby like swirls and the merest of crystalline chime corteges this wonderfully hollowed nugget simply purrs and freewheels as though lost in its own blissful moment. A deceptively rewarding and spaced out gem.
Key tracks –

I sleep
The strangest thought I never had
The world is wrong
It’s a shame


first aired July 2009

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