Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Sol Invictus, Rose Rovine E Amanti, Andrew King - A Mythological Prospect on The Citie of Londinium

This split CD was originally gifted to those who attended the live performance from these three acts at the Water Rats in London in December 2006. Those in attendance received a complimentary copy with a bonus lyric booklet, unfortunately not available to those purchasing the surplus copies now available from Cold Spring.

Each act contribute three tracks each. Sol Invictus open the proceedings with 'Old Londinium Weeps'. Taken from their The Devil's Steed album it laments the decline of London with Wakeford's despondent vocal hovering over cyclical guitar patterns drenched in weeping violin. This is a more atmopsheric and alluring version but you couldn't really fault a track that opens with the sneering tones of Kenneth Williams, could you? 'Down The Road Slowly' is a damning indictment on modern day Britain, with Wakeford's harrowing list of social abominations contrasted with pagan imagery. Wakeford and King deadpan the chorus: 'England is funny but sometimes she scares me'. Its dour sentiments fit with the dark demeneanor of Wakeford's outfit and, along with the opening track, it's a highlight of the Sol Invictus tracks. For their final track Sol return to the jaunty 'Eve', which originally appeared on The Hill of Crosses, performed here in a downbeat folk manner, its skipping rhythm offset by brooding electronics.

The three London versions of tracks by Rose Rovine E Amanti show they are something of a sophisticated outfit within the neo-fok genre. Their romantic ballads based around acoustic guitars and voice are accompanied by violins and mandolin giving their music something of a neo-classical edge. Once again, the work of Shakespeare is plundered and, once again, they are joined by the Von Thronstahl vocalist Josef K. who provides the heavyset vocals on 'Roma (Fukcro dell`Impero)', softened by the mandolin and harmonic voice of the Rose Rovine E Amanti frontman Damiano Mercuri. Yet its within the powerful ballads 'Mid Summer's Dream (after W. Shakespeare) and 'S. Michele (In Your Sword We Trust) with the rich male and female voices that this Italian act are at their strongest forging their twin inspirations of Christianity and Roman Culture.

Andrew King is a scholar of traditional song and folk vernacular. Yet rather than offer simple straightforward renditions his releases have been embellished by the musicians of the polyrhthmic industrial act KnifeLadder, adding an exciting but unobtrusive degree of experimentation.

On the live setting of 'When The Bells Justle In The Tower' he delivers a captivating performance of a text from A.E. Houseman. Amidst looped bell tolls, tinkering notes from a music box, and lashing rain King's impassioned delivery is impeccable, momentarily slipping from stern recitation into flights of fury as drums power. The stark arrangement of 'Polly On The Shore' is captivating in its simplicty and remarkably affecting. King's rendition is particularly moving as it slips from solo delivery to a congregation of voices backed by a gentle organ drone. It recalls some of the best moments from his split CD with dark folk troubadours Changes. His final contribution is a musical setting of poet, artist and visionary William Blake's 'London', an atmospheric soundpiece centered around a solemn drum beat, interspersed by the sound of galloping horses through the empty London streets providing a portentous setting for King's stern recitation. It's by far the most mysterious and sinister track from Andrew King, and perhaps more representative of 1888, his latest collaboration (which I've yet to hear) with the French act Les Sentiers Conflictuels based on the letters of another historic London figure, Jack the Ripper.

Each of the acts represent themselves well here, so it should appeal to veteran listeners and newcomers alike. Just don't be too aggrieved if, like me, you missed out on the limited booklet. The music and paintings of old London by Andrew King make this worth tracking down before it slips into the collector market. For more information go to