Exposé Online banner

Cathedral & Rum — Surreal Typewriter
((Not on label) no#, 2007, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01

Surreal Typewriter Cover art

Chris Hartford and his cohorts have returned for their third outing, and in a nutshell if you like what was done before you’ll probably enjoy this as well. C&R albums have always been somewhat schizophrenic affairs in my opinion. Southern California-based Hartford is a singer songwriter in the Dylan / Cohen mold and it’s easy to see that his country-tinged vocal and acoustic guitar playing are the nucleus of the recordings. But this is just the starting point of the arrangements that are then given a variety of costumes and overcoats courtesy of a host of musicians. This includes sax, trumpet, violin, DJ scratching, and female harmony vocals, besides a basic bass and drums accompaniment. In some cases the mix of instrumental ornamentation works, as with the songs “One More Lullaby” and “Caroline,” where subtle use of violin and electric guitar add an airy elegance that contrasts with edge-y sensuality. Even the beat poet / Tom Waits-infused “Pitch Black Light” conjures up logic to the improvised sax and trumpet backdrop. However, on more than one occasion I found the additional musicians to be a distraction. Hartford is blessed with a gift for songwriting and a great voice and in my opinion many songs would be better served without all the window dressing. That said, viewed through the prism of mid 60s psych, Tom Waits, and modern alt-psych this album has substance and an original sonic flair. Future offerings (there’s already new material in the works, supposedly) will certainly be worth a listen.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): Cathedral & Rum, Chris Hartford

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Atomic Bomb Audition - Eleven Theatres – Hailing from Oakland (always a good thing!), ABA is essentially an instrumental g/b/d trio with each member playing various additional instruments (electric sitar, Theremin, samplers, organ, synth,...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues