Spooky Men of the West launch new album

24 May 2008

"Created some time ago in 2005, The Spooky Men of the West is Stephen Taberner's twisted vision for the western chapter of the The Spooky Men's Chorale.

This now rogue chapter has expanded its repertoire with their own musical masterpieces, drawing on personal feelings and other things.

The Spooky men of the West seems to have been formed with no end in mind - luckily, cos there's no sign of stopping them now..."

"We never meant to come here" is the brand new EP from The Spooky Men of the West. A sixteen voice male acapella choir, the Spooky Men of the West explore (or should that be "subjugate"?) a range of musical styles from traditional Georgian table singing to contemporary and original works. Their sound has been said to be "gentle and sad, even sweet, but also sexy, powerful and unmistakably male". One newspaper report aptly describes them as "a group of wierdos who sing".

"We Never Meant to Come Here" includes six new songs that depart from Stephen Taberner's Spooky repertoire. "Navigation" is an original song by the Spooks, with music by Spookmeister Ryan Morrison. "Delilah" (Mason & Reed) and "When You Sleep" (CAKE) are surprisingly recognisable after being given a Spooky makeover. "Varjele" was written by Digby Hill, loosely based on a Finnish folk song, and "Mirangula" is a traditional Georgian lament. The "Norwegian Sailors Chorus" is Wagner as you have never heard him before, and possibly never want to hear him again.

Rather than trying to explain what this is about, check this out:

"When You Sleep" is Simon Nield's beautiful interpretation of the song by CAKE. To call it a cover is almost unfair because this version actually has a melody, something that is missing from the catchy but rather tuneless original. I guess this song appeals to my sense of strange, which makes it a personal favourite. Another stand-out track for me is Digby Hill's rousing arrangment of "Varjele", which perfectly sets the mood for marauding. And who else but the Spooks could turn a Wagnerian drinking chorus into a treatise on the demise of bathtime. I hope they're not suggesting we drink the bathwater...

I have just two tiny criticisms of this album. Firstly, the opening track "Navigation" is too short. Just as the song gathers momentum its finished - perhaps that's the point the song is making, but I felt I wanted more of the wonderful "home is where I hang my hat" motif. Secondly, while the CD sounds great it lacks some of the energy of the live performances, but I guess this is always the trade-off with studio recordings.

My advice is to get this CD but go see them live if you can, because part of the Spooky experience is that dissonance between the warm, wonderful evocative sound and their strange understated deadpan humour. If you're in Western Australia you can catch them at the upcoming Denmark Festival of Voice, and at the odd gig around Perth. For details and CDs, check their web site.