Really proud to state without the slightest hesitation, that I am a big fan of this artist as I own all his discography and admire his craft intensely. There aren’t that many vocalists in prog that you can instantly recognize within a few seconds, but Grice Peters is one that sits comfortably right at the top of the list. His guitar and keyboard talents are equally impressive, but that smooth voice is just spellbinding to witness, especially when all is brought to the forefront with melodies that adhere to the memory banks like the finest epoxy. His previous offering 2022’s sensational “Polarchoral” had all the ingredients to challenge the top contenders for finest prog album of that year (which was an exceptional one). I was wondering about being able to somehow surpass such a lofty bar, but the very first audition reassured me that I had not needed to bother with such fears. The rhythm section of Al Swainger on bass and drummer Robert Brian are kept intact and back for another romp of passionate, atmospheric, and melodic (the distinctive PAM quotient the prog rogue aspires to) progressive numbers that envelop the listener with silky euphoria and sonic pleasure.
The title track “Mordant Lake” suavely penetrates the space between heartbeats, a divinely haunting piece with solemn overtones, stinging acoustic guitar and a bucolic canvas of delicate simplicity. Grice wastes little time in presenting a glorious vocal, as he ‘sheds his skin’ and ‘travel this restless road’. The anaesthetic is taking effect.
With the legendary BJ Cole on pedal steel guitar, “Offer You” delivers a velvety smooth, slightly countrified arousal, wrapped in a shimmering melody, an insisting organ flurry, urging a ‘Go on and release me’. Being a day-one 1972 Roxy Music fan, I cannot help to hear parallels with Bryan Ferry’s voice, an “If There’s Something” coloration and that echoing e-piano motif to finish off.
“KARL” (is gonna get you) is the definition of a fragile airy ballad that half-way through decides to veer into an orchestral expanse, a daring variation that will alter the perception of the composition into immediate appreciation.
The hypnotic swirl on “Ghost Dance” is mystifying, both vocally with all the multi-tracked harmonies and the pared-down instrumental display, the acoustic guitar vying space with a trilling synthesizer cascade and dense mellotron swaths in the background. The final moments ‘shed the skin’ once again.
A frail disposition on “How Long” manages to convey a nevertheless strong message of eternal love, building up this incredible contrast of softness wanting to be more powerful, a deep seeded inner plea that every single human has at one time or another, contemplated.
The tempo rises with the repetitive exhortation on “Voices”, acoustic and electric guitars ringing, passionate lyrics ‘screaming in my head’ and a pulsating rhythm section kicking into higher gear. As Grice ratchets up the voice, there is a Bono- like elevation that caresses the ear with delicious audacity. This would be an outstanding song in a live setting.
The epic is next, “Silent Thunder” being a 9 minute + composition that suggest a sunlit disposition, a very Beatles-like vocal from Mr. Peters, with jangling guitars setting the pace and tons of breezy neo-psychedelic harmony vocals. A repeated ‘It’s All Right Now’ stamps an early 70s feel that is unmistakable. There are a few interjected mini sections of intense electric guitar splashes, intimate percussive percolations, all laced with hallucinogenic details of swirling liberation. A vocal master class.
The velvet curtain comes down with a short, sensitive finale on “End of the Mountain” a solitary acoustic guitar echoing in the peaceful valley, streaks of electronics on the horizon, as gentle as one can possibly imagine. Breathe.
Released now scheduled for July 5th, this is a distinctive, highly personal album from an immaculate artist. Buy the album: GRICE YouTube channel:
4.5 Acerbic ponds