When John Bassett veered down a more acoustic solo route – having created cinematic prog-rock pieces as KingBathmat – we enjoyed it, but not without some longing for the passionate rock of his earlier days.
Now, under the guise of Arcade Messiah, acoustic guitars and vocals make way for arguably the most straight-up rock work he’s ever produced. Still, this is the man who once named himself after a bathroom accessory and made sprawling Pink Floyd-meets-grunge gems like Kubrick Moon, so his rock will never be that straight-up. Accordingly, opener Sun Exile instantly grasps you by the throat with a mighty, distorted hook, swerving via the kind of tempo changes and proggy blasts that made the Bathmat so exciting. There are ominous, apocalyptic themes throughout. Strokes of heady, pounding post-rock slur into slower, grungy moments, while haunting arpeggios and electronic touches lend an ambient prog vibe to Aftermath. And the closer Roman Resolution is a triumph, merging Bassett’s varying heavy and delicate tones in one commanding piece de resistance. He’s not the Messiah – he’s a very talented boy.