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Last Harbour - My Knowen Foe EP

  by John Clarkson

published: 26 / 7 / 2008

Last Harbour - My Knowen Foe EP
Label: Little Red Rabbit Records
Format: CDS


Epic and orchestral new EP from seven piece Manchester-based collective, Last Harbour

Seven-piece act Last Harbour started the year well when they released their third album, ‘Dead Fires and the Lonely Spark’, to outstanding reviews at the beginning of March. A few weeks later the Manchester-based collective followed this by putting out the ‘My Knowen Foe EP’, which consisted of three songs which they had recorded since the album sessions. Only available initially through the FOPP chain and Last Harbour's own website, it has now been given a nationwide release. The band, which has several multi-instrumentalists in its current line-up, has become increasingly orchestral in its sound,and the songs on the ‘My Knowen Foe EP’ feature over a dozen instruments. They have a similar fiery tempestuousness to the tracks on ‘Dead Fires and the Lonely Spark’, combining a Gothic sense of the macabre and melancholy with sweeping, turbulent soundscapes. There is a lot to admire on these three songs-David Armes’ methodical, careful guitar lines which provide a central point for the other instruments to surge and dip around ; Gina Murphy’s giddy piano ; James Youngjohns’ rippling mandolin, and his and Sarah Kemp’s eerily evocative waves of viola and violin. Possibly most impressive of all are Kevin Craig's growling vocals, which merge Old Testament hellfire and damnation with baroque theatricalism. His narrative-driven lyrics are written from the perspective of those who have been made mad by both their unfulfilled passions and a need for revenge, yet deranged and often detestable as they are there is also a lot that is pitiful about them. The swaggering title track is a suicide note from beyond the grave. The writer of it has taken murderous wedding day vengeance on the focus of his passion's new love, and even now dead continues to rage at her with a seething mixture of both scorned contempt and intoxicated desire ("And if you receive my bruised body please bury it well/ Just a kiss on my eyes from your bruised lips consigned me to hell"). ‘The Wanting Seed’, a lavish reworking of a song which appeared in a more muted version on Last Harbour’s 2002 debut album, ‘The Host of Wild Creatures’, is another only mildly less harrowing study in jealousy and possessiveness (“Don’t go giving your love to everyone/They don’t deserve you like I do.”). Lastly there is the hazily elegiac ‘Sinner’, the gentility of which is contrasted with the fire-and-brimstone sneering scorn of its protagonist towards someone who has crossed him (“If there is a heaven above, if the stories are true, what does that mean to a sinner like you ?”). Despite its often epic tones, the tensions of ‘My Knowen Foe’ are such that it is especially dark and often claustrophobic listening. Its sense of theatre, the group’s heightened sound and Craig’s often spinechilling lyrics, however, make it unforgettable and also very much unique. ‘My Knowen Foe’ is both an excellent opening point to those new to Last Harbour, and a fine extra for those who have already found the ‘Dead Fires and the Lonely Spark’ album similarly haunting.

Track Listing:-
1 My Knowen Foe
2 The Wanting Seed
3 Sinner

Label Links:-

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