Bandcamp came up trumps this week. They published an article with the mesmerising title, “You Can’t Bury Canterbury: A Guide to the Neo-Canterbury Sound“. After a brief introduction to remind us that the Canterbury sound emerged in the early seventies with bands like Soft Machine, Caravan, National Health and Hatfield and the North it went on to present albums by no less than 17 currently active bands with a broadly similar style. The author describes them as “artists from all over the planet who are keeping Canterbury at the center of their universe”.
That’s a slight exaggeration both geographically and sylistically. The list includes a couple of bands from the U.S., four from the U.K., two from Spain, five from Italy and one each from other European countries (Norway, Belgium, France and Belarus). Africa, Asia and Latin America are completely missing and that’s rather a large portion of the planet! And, although I wouldn’t quibble with calling them ‘prog’, labelling them as ‘Canterbury’ is a bit of a stretch in some cases. Still, every sample track there was both interesting and enjoyable, so there are no complaints from the Crotchety campsite.
Of those 17 album offerings my favourite was the self-titled Zopp. It was the most Canterbury in style and, by happy coincidence, also by the band located just a stone’s throw from the Crotchety festival tent.
Zopp is Ryan Stevenson, who composes the tunes and plays most of the instruments, and Andrea Moneta who provides drums and percussion. The Zopp album also features guest artists Andy Tillison (keyboards), Theo Travis (flute), Caroline Joy Clarke (vocals) and Mike Benson (tenor sax). The overall feel is laid-back, keyboard-laden prog rock. Electric guitars contribute variation in tone without disturbing the general vibe. Where there are voices they serve as a textural backdrop – there are no lyrics. Fans of Caravan will be right at home here.
Judging by the album artwork Zopp is a red teapot that transforms into a scorpion. Whether that is true I can’t say but it is certainly Old Man Crotchety’s cup of lightly brewed tea.