‘Clive Mitten’ is best known for his eleven year association with UK Progressive Rock band ‘Twelfth Night’ with whom he performed 310 gigs between September 1978 and January 1987. In 1982 ‘Twelfth Nights’ first studio album ‘Fact and Fiction,’ written by ‘Clive’ and fellow Twelfth Night band member ‘Geoff Mann (RIP)’, was released. According to the sleeve notes and reading between the lines ‘Clive’ after leaving ‘Twelfth Night’ followed a professional career path outside of music (except there is a brief mention of his being involved in studio management). Parallel and for whatever reason ‘Clive’ also insulated himself from the compositional side of music until some thirty years later when the politically induced murder of Jo Cox (on 16 June 2016 by a right wing fanatic together with other political manoeuvrings occurring at the same time which collectively acted as a catalyst for his return to the recording studio. Clive quotes “Suddenly the world Geoff Mann and I had foreseen in ‘Fact and Fiction’ felt very real”
I have to admit that I am not at all familiar with ‘Twelfth Nights’ album ‘Fact and Fiction’ and that particular version of the track ‘We Are Sane’ which featured within and so I cannot draw any comparisons with what I understand is a reworking of that track produced here on this ‘C:Live’ album. Therefore in respect to this album review, it is a preverbal clean sheet. I will say that normally it is far too time consuming to comment on an album on a track by track basis but I found myself fascinated by the concept here and felt the need to try express my findings by means of a simple musical dissection and I certainly enjoyed listening to the album from this particular angle.
Track 1 (The Fifth Eastate Part One –The Dictator Speaks) Opens with some slowly delivered atmospheric keyboard chord sequences providing the background for a sequence of sorrowful vocals overlaid with an intermittent spoken voice before the pace quickens and a myriad of keyboard generated note flurries intermingle with some powerful drumming. Then suddenly the music fully takes off to lead us onto a delightful progressive rock anthem incorporating multi contributions from guitar, bass and keyboards with powerful lyrics delivered in both a mixture of spoken word and uplifting vocal projections.
Track 2 A delightful deeply resonant cello accompaniment introduce us to this classical tinged instrumental full of interchanging percussive proliferations including church bells, helicopter sounds, breaking glass and other reverberations depicting the impression of all around mayhem. This occurs above interesting rhythmic bass runs which are then implemented throughout. The keyboards then again initiate a series of nice harmonic fills which evolve into a progression of notes that form into a steady percussive infused march style rendition before the lead guitar takes charge with a range of exhilarating phrases over a backdrop of enchanting swirling keyboards. Finally the simple keyboard vamp returns again supported by that deeply resonant cello accompaniment that once more paves the way for a classically inspired passage of symphonic keyboard swirls forming together to deliver the body of a simple but melodic tune as an outro.
Track 3 (The Fifth Estate Part Three) An atmosphere of disturbing flute and cello like note contortions together with a range of warlike explosive noises initiate this track but which end quite abruptly giving way to a slightly jazz tinged sequence of recurrent bass lines that are soon complemented with a wash of many varied melodic and discordant keyboard interspersions and a plethora of curious choral effects. Unexpectedly a distinct change of musical direction is signalled and incorporated within this track with a blast of powerful drumming a further platform of ever-changing keyboard histrionics, sombre piano and a final burst of well-considered lead guitar before a tinkling piano finalises the proceedings.
Track 4 (The Fifth Estate Part Four) with your headphones seemingly filled to the brim with keyboard generated sounds that could be likened to menacing aircraft attack this track is thus initiated. A more up-tempo classical keyboard theme soon follows in which the music generates a feeling of conflict and struggle Subject then to time changes galore the atmosphere of this track alters the emphasise from doom and gloom to one of glorious hope (maybe?). Certainly the skilful keyboard manipulations on this track create a fluctuation of different emotions.
Track 5 (This City is London) Even though a couple prominent time changes do feature in the makeup of the composition This track is set apart from the rest of the album by its sheer commercialism, the music mostly set within the framework of a recurring pseudo dub beat fronted by a softly projected yet jaunty style of vocal delivery. Once again keyboards dominate the proceedings incorporating a series of sharp deeply resonant monosyllabic propagations bathed amongst a succession of orchestral fills. The later introduction of choral harmonic accompaniment to support the lead vocal works really well and adds another dimension to the recording.
Summary: An interesting mostly keyboard orientated album with thought provoking conceptual ideals.
Artwork: A nicely produced digipack with informative booklet.
The Age of Insanity is the first of a series of linked releases from the band in 2018. At its heart is Clive Mitten’s new hour long four-part opus, The Fifth Estate, which will reappear in the autumn in its full vocal version. Here it comprises a fully revised vocal version of We Are Sane (Part One) and specially arranged instrumental mixes of Parts Two to Four.
Clive Mitten ( Formally Twelfth Night): keyboards, orchestrations, bass, lead and acoustic guitars, drum and percussion programming, noises and effects
Fudge Smith (Pendragon): drums
James Mann: lead vocal (5), backing vocals
Mark Spencer: guitars, lead vocal (1), additional vocal (5), backing vocals
Stephen Bennett (Henry Fool, No-Man, Tim Bowness): piano, keyboards
• Backing Vocals – James Mann (7)
• Drums – Fudge Smith
• Guitar, Backing Vocals – Mark Spencer (11)
• Lyrics By – Clive Mitten (tracks: 5), Geoff Mann (tracks: 1 and 5)
• Music By, Arranged By, Producer, Keyboards, Orchestrated By, Bass, Acoustic Bass, Electric Guitar, Drum Programming, Noises, Effects – Clive Mitten
• Piano, Keyboards – Stephen Bennett
• Vocals – James Mann (7) (tracks: 5), Mark Spencer (11) (tracks: 1, 5)