‘I like to take you in the morning, when the day is fresh. When I can’t remember who you are, or what you’ve done to deserve my flesh’. And thus it begins. 50 minutes of broadly gothic, broadly neurotic, tomb–raiding agit-folk from Bristol’s crusty old sea-harpy, Rose Kemp, who in spite of her amusingly theatrical caterwauling occasionally dishes up a ballad or two of prodigious (if elusive) worth (‘Flawless’, ‘Nature’s Hymn’).
Of course, as the daughter of Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp of hoary old English folksters, Steeleye Span, it was always likely to be a challenging listen, Rose having contributed no end of vocals to various albums by Ma and Pa as well as performing with SJ Esau and Max Milton of the bonkers improvisational-pop trio, Jeremy Smoking Jacket. Now signed to One Little Indian Records, Rose releases, ‘Unholy Majesty’ – produced and mixed by Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters/Amplifier/Biffy Clyro) and featuring titles as charmingly irrelevant as ‘Milky White’, ‘Dirt Glow’ and ‘Wholeness Sounds’.
Influenced by classic Black Metal, Doom and 70’s prog (and no end of bored and solitary weeks spent in her bedroom as a troubled-teen, no doubt) the album is a schizophrenic mix of grossly pretentious soul bearing and darkly pretty melodies meted out with the lofty precision of an opera-star in a shoebox.
Claustrophobic, intense, and more than occasionally ridiculous, it’s a commanding performance from Kemp, even if it fails to command our interest for long.
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