Sphelm - These Roots Know No Boundaries album review

Visionary acoustic electronic prog from Manchester's Sphelm.

Sphelm - These Roots Know No Boundaries album art

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When cult Mancunian progressive rockers Cyril Snear called it a day in summer 2015, there could be no doubt that new projects would soon emerge. For Mike McKnight, frontman and guitarist, his Sphelm side project became his focus, and he sold his electric guitars and pedals to focus on a stripped-down sound.

Completed by Tim Powell on keyboards, an extended trip abroad by Tim saw Mike honing the material in solo acoustic shows around the UK, and These Roots Know No Boundaries breathes with an organic feel that shows these songs are properly lived-in. Fans of Matt Stevens’ acoustic chops will enjoy the tapping figures in Stillness, while followers of Oceansize and early Verve will lose themselves in the cinematic album highlight After The Dopamine.

Sphelm can surprise too – witness the almost Everything Everything-style oddball pop of The Hatch, which betrays their strong Radiohead influence, or Acatalepsy’s horn-driven crescendo, complete with David Gilmour slide guitar figures. Fiendishly difficult to pigeonhole, These Roots Know No Boundaries is undoubtedly one of the most eccentric and brilliant releases of the year. If there’s such a thing as acoustic post-rock, then probably this is it.