- 27 Oct 20
Seven Years And Worth The Wait.
This Irish incarnation of Prester John – on the go for seven years – has no connection with guitarist Shawn Persinger who trades under the same moniker. The original Prester John, if there was one, was reputed to be a Christian patriarch and ruler in the middle ages, but if you’re expecting music for a medieval dance around the maypole, then try next door. We Found Prester John is actually a wide-ranging sonic exploration across the rock spectrum from a potpourri of Irish musicians, including Bazz O’Reilly, Aidan McKelvey, Caimin Gilmore, Jethro Pickett, Aaron McGrattan and Leigh Duncan.
Although this genre-leaping album is arguably best approached as a complete experience, it has numerous highlights. It kicks off with a track inspired by the love story of ‘Abelard And Heloise’ that embraces hardcore soul, jagged riffs, ambient noise and belligerent rock. That tale has filtered into the works of Frank Black and Cole Porter et al, but this version by Prester John drills deeper than most.
After big staccato stabs, ‘By Our Dreams’ becomes an adventurous moody soul classic with an impassioned, soaring vocal. ‘There Is No Past’, with a tentative vocal reminiscent of Antony Hegarty, as well as delicious strings, evokes a vulnerability that could make it a sombre anthem for the times we’re sort of living through. ‘A Sky Apart’ works against an equally bleak soundscape but is no less compelling, not least because of the rays of light within. Eventually, ‘It’s Not The Moon’ rattles and hums along: awe could have done with more of its energy and pace.
Some judicious editing of the longer tracks might also have been fruitful, but overall this is a highly adventurous exploration of musical noise that works off a full palate of emotions. Maybe they’ll get the next one done before 2027?