Sausages (2013, 6.45) ***½/TTLord of the Perfect V (original version)
That Primal Age
I Know I Know
|Download (2013) ***/½
Use & Ornament (2013, 60.52) ****½/TTTT
Cherish That Rubber Rodent
The Mardi Gras Turned Ugly in Seconds
Confession From a Deep and Warm Hibernaculum
i. Running, Hopping, Leaping
iii. Sword Blades
iv. Time and Circumstance (One Second Either Way)
|6:17PM - The Aunt Turns Into an Ant
i. Crunch Time. Tea Waste. Flagstone Desert.
ii. Narration #1
iii. Six Feet and Under the Table. Approaching Terror.
iv. Beset By Centipedes. The Well-Timed Rescue.
v. Narration #2
vi. Acceptance Into the Colony, on Condition That Eighteen Score and
Ten Aphids Are Ritually Sacrificed. Refusal and Escape.
vii. Flagstone Dessert (With Cake Crumbs). Ant Alone.
viii. Narration #3
ix. My Name is Silvius. Ant Elopes. From Ants to Blackbirds and Beyond.
x. Each its Hour
Klara Till Slutet (Main Title Theme)
|Download (2013) ***½/T
Lord of the Perfect V (2013 version)
Neither Use Nor Ornament (2014, 46.31) ****/TTTT
|Odilon Escapes From the Charcoal Oblivion, But
Endeavours to Return and Rescue the Cactus Men
i. Another Forlorn Morn
ii. You Know What? I'm Getting Out of Here
iii. Arrival of Sorts
iv. Paradise is Twice as Nice
v. End of Level Baddie
vi. Prism Prison
Sovereign of the Skies
The King of Sleep (parts 1 to 5)
|Download (2017) ****/T½
Gypsy Blood Lead to Kepple's Folly
|Listen at Your Peril #1 (2018) ***/T
Odilon and the Cactus Men
|Listen at Your Peril #2 (2018) ***/TT½
Pig Views (2018, 52.38) ****½/TTTT
|Rose, Rubus, Smilax, Vulkan
Revealed as a True Future Tyrant
Pre-Colombian Worry Song
Rose Parkington, They Would Not Let You Leave
The Dreaded Lurg
i. Catch Your Death
ii. He Hath Rear'd His Sceptre O'er the World
iii. To Hunt an Ancient Vampire
Huge Machine, You Are So Heavy
Dissecting the Worm (a Taste) (2018?, 19.20) ***½/TT½Rose, Rubus, Smilax, Vulkan
The Last Blizzard/Crystallization
|Download (2018) ****½/TTT
6:17PM : The Aunt Turns Into an Ant (alternate version)
Pig Views: Early Sketches & Scribbles (2019, 65.47) ****/TTTRose Rubus Smilax Vulkan (early rough mix)
Flytta Fram (early rough mix of Revealed as a True Future Tyrant)
Help, the Captain's a Lunatic! (unused shanty song for intro to Pre-Columbian Worry Song)
Pre-Columbian Worry Song (early rough mix)
Winter Suite (early rough mix of Under den Svenska Vintern [During Swedish Winter])
Space Invaders (unused track. Rough early mix)
Pig Bytes (a collection of random riffs, splodges and splurges from the sessions)
The Hideous Goblink (2021, 41.54) ****/TTAction By HAVOC
The Inner Vacuum
Regal Worm are the latest project from Jarrod Gosling (I Monster, Skywatchers), more consciously 'progressive' than his other work. Their first release, 2013's Sausages EP, sets their stall out nicely in its Canterburyesque moves, probably at its best on the manic Lord Of The Perfect V (Original Version). Mellotron on two tracks, with background choirs on Lord Of The Perfect V and layered strings and flutes on That Primal Age, not to mention an echoed flute line on the brief Jag Vet, released as a download-only single the same year.
2013's Use & Ornament could be loosely categorised as Canterbury-influenced, echoes of Soft Machine and Caravan (not to mention the non-Canterbury, but ubiquitous King Crimson) leaking through the mix everywhere you look, angular riffery and squalling, jazzy sax runs the order of the day, although a more contemporary prog influence can also be detected in places. Picking out any kind of 'best track' is fairly superfluous, frankly, although progheads may be keenest on the two longest pieces here, the multi-part Confession From A Deep And Warm Hibernaculum and even more multi-part 6:17PM - The Aunt Turns Into An Ant, the lyrics of which are, unsurprisingly, as utterly bonkers as you might expect. Speaking of which, vocals aren't really what this record's about; apart from the two featured female vocalists (Lucy Hope and Rebecca Allen), most vocal parts are of the 'harmonies designed to mask diffident male singers' variety (see: Camel), quite possibly deliberately, but then, Use & Ornament is clearly primarily about the music.
Jarrod tells me he uses all nine of his Mellotron sounds here, although a good half of them are difficult to detect. Oboe? Recorder? I know they're all here, but I'm hard-pushed to tell you where. What we can hear is the 'standard' strings/flutes/choir trio, with the odd burst of MkII brass in places, although that could be (but probably isn't) the Mellotron 12-string in 6:17PM. Top use includes a near-solo flute/strings section five-and-something minutes into Confession... and a brass/strings part fifteen minutes into 6:17PM, but, frankly, it's all over the thing in highly pleasing fashion. In fact, the only obvious non-Mellotron piece is the relatively brief Mud, although I'm not 100% sure about some of those sub-sections in the longer tracks.
2014 brings Neither Use Nor Ornament, if anything, an even more Canterburyesque release, with three shorter tracks bookended by two multi-part epics. My personal favourite is opener (deep breath) Odilon Escapes From The Charcoal Oblivion, But Endeavours To Return And Rescue The Cactus Men, runner-up, the brief, atmospheric Tombland Guerrilla, which isn't to disparage the other three, particularly The King Of Sleep; I can definitely see Canterbury fans going more for this one. Mellotron on every track, although, named example excepted, I hear nothing but the 'big three': strings, choirs and flutes. All three sounds all over Odilon Escapes..., strings on Animal Attic, what must be a new pipe organ recording (nothing like the good old St. John's Wood steamroller version) on Tombland Guerrilla and flutes and strings on Sovereign Of The Skies and The King Of Sleep.
2017's Gypsy Blood Lead To Kepple's Folly is a typical Worm composition, featuring volume-pedalled strings throughout, although the flute is real. The two volumes of Listen at Your Peril consist of just one track each. #1's, Odilon And The Cactus Men, is described on Bandcamp as 'Low quality bootleg recording. Unknown origin' and they ain't kidding. An early (?) version of Neither Use Nor Ornament's opening track, the recording is painfully noisy, if energetic, with strings throughout, while #2's, Apple Witch (originally on Use & Ornament), is murky, rather than noisy, Mellotron strings and flutes cropping up here and there.
2018's Pig Views is apparently named in 'honour' of his studio's view of the ground of 'the other team'. It's a Sheffield thing... His earlier albums' Canterburyness takes a back seat, although I'm having trouble identifying specific influences here - isn't that as it should be? - particular highlights including Pre-Colombian Worry Song's cyclical riff, The Dreaded Lurg's epic sweep and Crystallisation's sparse vocal work. Pointers as to its sound include the heavy use of sax and 'difficult' time signatures, but you could say the same about Gentle Giant and this sounds little like them, other than in the broader sense of being complex and progressive. Mellotron everywhere you look, of course, with choirs, strings, a melodic flute part and vibes on opener Rose, Rubus, Smilax, Vulkan, strings on Revealed As A True Future Tyrant, strings and flutes in (semi-) unison on Pre-Colombian Worry Song, strings and choirs on Rose Parkington, They Would Not Let You Leave, strings, choirs, flutes and oboe on the various parts of The Dreaded Lurg, strings and choirs on Crystallisation and a flute line, strings and choirs on Huge Machine, You Are So Heavy, leaving naught but the album's two briefest tracks as Mellotron-free. Is this Regal Worm's best yet? It just might be.
The download-only Dissecting the Worm (a Taste), while supposedly a 2013 release, at least according to Bandcamp, contains different recordings of tracks from all three of the band's albums, making it rather unlikely that it dates from then, it seems to me. Anyway, at under twenty minutes, most of its contents are no more than musical vignettes, probably at their best on opener Rose, Rubus, Smilax, Vulkan and Morning Sentinel. Mellotron on most tracks, with choirs, strings and flutes on Rose, Rubus, Smilax, Vulkan, strings on Animal Attic, choirs on Morning Sentinel and gentle strings and choirs on The Last Blizzard/Crystallization. 2019's Pig Views: Early Sketches & Scribbles does exactly what it says on the tin, although the previously-unheard material is more 'devoted fans' than 'beginners'. Plenty of Mellotron, with choirs and strings on the early rough mix of Rose Rubus Smilax Vulkan, strings on Flytta Fram, the early rough mix of Revealed As A True Future Tyrant, strings and flutes on the early rough mix of Pre-Columbian Worry Song, strings and choirs on the near-half hour Winter Suite, the early rough mix of Under Den Svenska Vintern, not to mention the melodic flute section halfway through the lengthy piece, strings on Space Invaders and strings, choirs, vibes and echoed flutes on Pig Bytes, suitably suffixed A Collection Of Random Riffs, Splodges And Splurges From The Sessions.
2021's The Hideous Goblink (referencing Jarrod's Facebook nom de plume) is the band's fourth album proper, another set of mad, eclectic jazz-infused prog, all tracks running into each other in true concept album mode. If it has a weak spot, it's nineteen-minute closer The Satan, which rather loses its way in places, but the bulk of the album's the usual challenging, yet rewarding listen. Mellotron? Little stabs of volume-pedalled strings on opener Action By HAVOC, squalling flutes and chordal strings on the splendidly-titled Bonzai Master, flutey bits and more of those volume-pedalled strings on Pollinators and crazed flutes and strings at the end of Underground Comix, tipping over into The Satan, but so minimally, on a nineteen-minute track, that I'm treating the first few seconds as the end of Underground Comix. Why? Because I can.
If these albums have a problem, it's that they're so eclectic that it'll take many plays to delve into their intricacies properly. And this is a problem? Not once upon a time, perhaps, when one would buy an album (quite possibly the only one you could afford that week, or even month), sit down, play it, play it again and inwardly digest, but in today's high-speed world, finding the time to give them the effort they deserve is easier said than done. In which case, I suggest that you make the effort. Buy.
See: I Monster | Skywatchers | Cobalt Chapel