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Cobalt Chapel - Under the Radar

  by Keith How

published: 13 / 10 / 2018

Cobalt Chapel - Under the Radar


In his 'Under the Radar' column, in which he searches out under-rated artists and labels, Keith How examines Sheffield/London-based duo Cobalt Chapel's self-titled debut album, which is an uniquely inventive psychedelic folk classic.

Be not afraid, lovers of prog pock and psych folk, devotees of British eccentricity and lovers of genuine music: I have (belated ) good news. It comes in the form of Sheffield/London collaboration Cobalt Chapel. Back in the day (1967-74-ish), music was full of possibilities. Listening to a new album was a voyage of discovery – you never knew what to expect. Bands would go on tour, and you might be lucky enough to get a bus into town to see them. It was always an experience. Mainly, you took the 'Sounds' reviewer's word for it and took a gamble on the record. Listening to Cobalt Chapel‘s album reminded me of those heady days. I must stress that this is not some old bloke on a nostalgia trip. Everything about this work is fresh and exciting, inventive and authentic. Yes, it has clear links to its forbears, but it pays homage in such an intelligent manner, you cannot help to admire the audacity and appreciate the craft on show here. Basically the band consists of Jarrod Gosling, the genius behind Regal Worm and I Monster, and singer/actress Cecilia Fage. Gosling has an amazing collection of vintage electronics and keyboards. Fage is a vocalist with Matt Berry and the Maypoles. As Cobalt Chapel, they are at the forefront of a progressive music revival echoing the glory days of, say, Mellow Candle and Trees, while finding a totally original place of their own. Their album is pretty much a masterpiece. Channelling the strangeness of folk horror and its imagery, tapping into the almost forgotten heroes of the Canterbury and Cambridge folk scenes, in addition to acid folk, not to mention Germanic experimenters of past and present, there is much to delight and intrigue. Gosling and Fage discovered they had many of the same reference points – largely horror films and soundtracks. As a result, the album is infused with swirling synths, groovy keyboards and spooky interludes, topped with Fage‘s strong and beautiful vocal performance. Cobalt Chapel are, without doubt, one of today's most original and inventive bands. They have a sense of Englishness and of a strangeness – think 'The Avengers' and Hammer Films. Their adaptation of John Taverner‘s 'Little Lamb' is as exquisite as it is unexpected, while 'Horratio' is transcendent. 'Singing Camberwell Beauty' is a psychedelic folk classic.

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Cobalt Chapel - Under the Radar

Cobalt Chapel - Under the Radar

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