If you’re going to knock out a reissue a mere five years after the original release, it had better be a damn good one. Well, fear not, for prog’s favourite fruit stealers have delivered, impressing with a succulent remaster to celebrate Kscope’s fifth anniversary. Five years ago Tightly Unwound was Kscope’s very first release and Bruce Soord and band were a seriously underground affair. This reissue produces the goods on three fronts – packaging, remixing and bonus features. Wrapped up in trademark Kscope digibook format the reissue has a bespoke feel. Okay, it’s not a killer reason to splash out, but the hardback feel communicates care, attention and luxury.
Equally, the remastering courtesy of Dave Turner and Soord’s remix brings a new dimension to the album. Sure, while we get the usual increase in overall oomph, the pleasure of Soord’s knob-twiddling, in particular, lies in the crispness and clarity. From the moment Soord’s vocals introduce My Debt To You it’s possible to hear a widening of the dynamic range. If the vocals feel better defined in the mix – especially on the crystal-clear, almost bell-like Different World – then the remix makes them even more vulnerable.
The sweet melancholia of The Sorry State now seems to seep out tangibly from the speakers. Equally, My Bleeding Hand achieves a new level of definition, Jon Sykes’ bass now a truly fearsome dark counterpoint to the pulled-back vocal sections. Different World also generates greater space for Soord’s psyched-up guitar work. Thus, the reissue is about enhancement not revolution and rather like their recent career, the Thiefs’ take on this remix is bigger, bolder and more confident, yet faithful to the original vision.
The package is made complete with the addition of the two limited edition Dawn Raids EPs (sans the Tightly Unwound single edit) brought together for the first time. There is also a delicious acoustic take on Shoot First, which reaffirms that Soord doesn’t need all the tricks to prove he’s a very fine songwriter. While hardcore fans will already own the songs from the EP, it’s ace to see them placed alongside Tightly Unwound for at least two reasons: they capture in one place the Thiefs on their way to the completeness of Someone Here is Missing and they also remind us of the sheer depth of their talents.
In the liner notes, Bruce Soord flags up how far the band have come since the launch of Tightly Unwound to 40-odd souls in a London pub. Fair words, but the love that’s been poured into this reissue signals just how much those formative days meant to the band and their label.