Anta: Centurionaut

Young Bristolians’ must-hear masterclass in instrumental prog.

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Bless James King. The drummer for Bristol band Anta struck a blow for prog in a recent interview with music website, saying there was a false idea “that prog is a drawn-out and pompous affair [...] which is annoying, as I have loads of prog records and none of them match that description”.

You only have to listen to his four-piece’s extraordinary second album to hear where he’s coming from. Centurionaut is knotty, intelligent prog without an ounce of fat on its lithe frame. It’s as if King Crimson sat in a room for a week watching horror and sci-fi movies then got Television’s Tom Verlaine over for a jam.

It’s all there in the imperious opener Clock Turret Khan, a highly accomplished composition with off-kilter time signature, the assured, punky-raw guitar of Stephen Kerrison and Alex Bertram-Powell’s Hammond threading through each other. King and bassist Joe Garcia provide a strong backbone to the frenetic, multi-faceted Dolmen, Helepolis and Cenotaphium I and II.

Some of these weigh in at the 10-minute mark. Drawn-out? No way – new ideas assail you by the minute. Riveting? Completely. Centurionaut is brawny, brainy fun.