12/12 "First Utterance" (Originally 1971, 2018 UK Release): This is one of those albums you hear and immediately know will be a masterpiece. The first few seconds were polyrhythmic and folky and immediately caught my eye. The style is progressive folk, psychedelic rock, and freak folk, which basically sounds like progressive rock from the Renaissance era, but played by a group of folk musicians, and features some screaming and other weird noises. To compare their sound to other musicians, they almost sound like an amalgamation of Love, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Renaissance, Ween, and Captain Beefheart. The first song alone, features a folk ensemble, an electric band, hand percussion, and both normal and strange male and female vocals. That's one thing I love about the album. I love that there's both a male and female singer that sing together, trade off songs, and back-up each other's vocals. It gives the pleasure of the British-sounding female prog lead singer like Annie Haslam of Renaissance or Sonja Kristina of Curved Air and the male vocals remind me a lot of Dean Ween on "The Mollusk" with Greg Lake's vocal effect on "21st Century Schizoid Man" and the rawness of Murray Head from "Jesus Christ Superstar".
I actually accidentally listened to the UK 2018 release, featuring four bonus tracks, but was pleasantly surprised, because I love how the album ends with "All the Colours of Darkness". It also makes the album slightly longer and gives a few more good tracks. Also, regarding the title of the album, "First Utterance", there is a lot to consider. It could simply be that this album is the debut and novel to the band, being the "first utterance" of their work or their first album. This can also be relevant to the dark themes throughout, with the utterances of "Diana" in the first track, which encompasses the rape of Diana.
Bangers: "Diana", "The Herald", "Drip Drip", and "The Prisoner", "All the Colours of Darkness" "Diana" immediately drew me in, being the perfect mixture of progressive folk and freak folk, and being as versatile as it is for only a four-minute song. Also, this sets the tone for the album, being a forest-setting and encompassing dark and taboo themes. This song is about the rape of a woman named Diana and the symbolism of lust in a visceral way. The line "Diana, Diana kick your feet up" is disturbing and haunting to hear and every utterance of "Diana" throughout the song stings. It is bold to start an album this gruesomely and parallels my trademark of an "eruption of violence", where's there's a sudden intense and graphic scene. In this case, it is the first utterance of the album and chooses rape as the topic. "The Herald" is such a cinematic and atmospheric song, featuring a Theremin-sounding instrument and the kind of panning and ambient music of a film score to a space film or a song about futurism. The combinations of different instruments playing contrasting parts almost puts me in a trance, but Watson's vocals pierce through the wall of sound and carry us through the journey. "Drip Drip" carries the album into a sort of deranged party. It sounds festive, which may parallel to the god of festivity Comus, but also sounds angry and enraged. There is a sense of agitated urgency with the music and the lead singer screams with the same power as other hard rock singers of the time, like Black Sabbath or King Crimson. It reminds me of a scene from "Midsommar" or the party scene from "Parasite". "The Prisoner" is a great finisher track. It's almost like the aftermath of a bloody war or murder. There's a guitar introduction that ends in a major chord, switching into a rather upbeat tune that you'd hear driving on a road trip or something. It gives a feeling of "looking up", switching between male and female vocals. The chorus brings us back to the raw vocals we'd hear from The Who or Love. At this point, the music gets faster and switches between singers and vocal intensity and includes a lot of percussive vocals and screams, panning left to right into the end of the song. However, I prefer the album to end in the song "All the Colours of Darkness", which is the version I listened to. "All the Colours of Darkness" is a beautiful and creepy song that makes the ending feel so much more somber and depressing. Watson carries this song as a solo and her vocals appear to be raw and a bit shaky, which adds to the feel of darkness on this track. It's similar to Jesus Christ Superstar's "I Don't Know How to Love Him", but mixed with the emotional damage of other tracks like "Gethsemane" or "Judas' Death". It's very similar to Nico's vocal style on "Velvet Underground and Nico". And the final lyrics of the album are thus "Sliding slowly away. All the colours of darkness are there, are there." What a melancholy but numbing way to end an album.
ALBUM ARTWORK: The artwork is perfect. I adore when albums/bands create characters for their albums like Iron Maiden's Eddie or Gentle Giant's Giant. This creature appears on both this album and the album "Out of the Coma". It's creative and strange and disturbing. The way the body is contorted and filthy-looking and almost anorexic. It looks in pain, curling its back, scrunching it's fingers, and lying with its head down and pained and defeated face. It looks like it was worked and starved nearly to death. Also, the texture is wonderful separating the whtie background from the dark shadows and details of this monochrome drawing. The album name and band name follow the contour of the body and parallel the texture of the creature, almost flaking off with it. This is certainly one of my favorite album covers.