None Other: Than The Common Plague

Classy if depressing concept album from Greek polymath Spyros Charmanis.

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Greek multi-instrumentalist Spyros Charmanis deserves a serious listen on the strength of his first album as None Other.

Than The Common Plague is a concept album (complete with accompanying novel) based on a personal experience of “disease, treatment and the inherent isolation towards ‘the light at the end of the tune’”. Jet black in tone, Charmanis sups from the same dour well as your Thom Yorkes and Matt Bellamys. But like those two, his misery’s harnessed to some rock solid songwriting and exquisite production. Once he’s taken the bass for a walk on the jaunty, jazzy The Beast Is Yet To Come, we’re submerged into stark atmospheres (the filmic instrumental Lie To Me) and minor-key arpeggios (the classical guitar-led Bearer starts out in Street Spirit Radiohead territory and ends up encroaching on Steven Wilson’s). Muse’s influence pervades the entire work, and if the album’s ultimately overlong, over-earnest and overdone, the quality of the sound mix is extraordinary, Charmanis’ vocal lines, chord changes and harmonies surprise as often as Sanguine Hum’s, and the climax on Rieux would give Robert Fripp goosebumps.