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John Bassett: Unearth

Solid, low-key debut from the KingBathmat linchpin.

With KingBathmat, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Bassett has made a dent on our reviews pages twice in the past 12 months with two striking psych records, Truth Button and Overcoming The Monster. On this, his debut solo album, there are elements of that band’s multi-faceted grasp of psych, rock and pop, but there’s a more sober, introspective tone to this music.

The acoustic strummers Stay Away From The Dark and Survival Rate are coloured with Kinks-like piano figures, electric pianos, with Bassett’s plangent vocals doubled up nicely. His trick is to keep this all just leftfield enough – a Syd Barrett-esque chord caprice here, a Space Oddity melodic loan there (Nothing Sacred).

There’s plenty of prog meat on the bones of Pantomime and Kylerhea (Floyd, Steven Wilson and Marillion come to mind) and the interesting melodies and harmonic shifts are skilfully handled, each popping despite the songs’ overwhelmingly acoustic arrangements.

Some of Bassett’s lyrical polemic might be a little well-worn (TV Is God) and there’s an earnestness here that the ’Bathmat keep in check, but right up to tear-inducing coda Comedian there is much to dig here.