It’s been such a long-time in the making that Cauls’ debut album has almost taken on a sort of mythical status – it’s the North East’s very own ‘Chinese Democracy’. Yet today Newcastle-based progressive quintet Cauls finally unleash their magnificent opus Recherché, the result of years of painstaking arrangement and meticulous technical wizardry.
“We recorded the chassis of the project back in February 2015 up at Blank Studios,” says vocalist Michael Marwood. “Then we concurrently laid down the vocals and recorded guitars through spring and summer. As there was a small hiatus period, vocals needed to be rerecorded and further ideas amended until we were all happy. I think with us all juggling our own time schedules and endeavours, allocating slots to work on the album proved difficult, especially with line-up changes and writing of new material.”
It’s an astoundingly ambitious effort comprising of 5 pieces of work broken into phases, beginning with ethereal opener De Novo Quincunx which acts as an introduction to the soaring, intoxicating wonder of Peace Paean and ending with the ever-evolving, eight minute long behemoth that is Épée. In the epic journey from beginning to end there’s all manner of sonic diversity: crunching riffs, otherworldly soundscapes, meandering time-signatures and complex polyrhythms, not to mention Marwood’s mesmerising vocals. From just one listen to Recherché it’s immediately evident how it could have taken so long to come to fruition.
“Some of the material goes way back, even before our previous EP’, explains Marwood. “We tend to try and have ideas running simultaneously so we can move between them. It takes months to bring a song to completion. There are ever-changing sections and movements which must be glued together accordingly, and although it may seem very time consuming and unnecessary at times, for us, they’re all accomplishments. Comparing this album with the EP, it’s evident that our music has matured”.
‘Recherché’ itself means rare, esoteric, or somewhat obscure: a pretty apt summary of the nature of the album. So multi-faceted is Cauls’ sound that it’s impossible to pin them down to one genre. “We frequently get asked what genre we are, and I think the writing process and arranging of each track takes over what we actually think our ‘sound’ should sound like. During the composition process there’s more of a focus on the flow of the track, the appropriateness of what each individual is playing and whether or not it ‘makes sense/is listenable’ rather than going for a distinct overall sound. We incorporate varying time signatures and polyrhythms into our set along with riff sections, wig-outs and ambient noodlings, which lend themselves to math-rock, prog-rock and jazzy fucking emo-core ideals, but it is important for us to maintain a listenable aspect and sit within a mix of genres.”
Genre-wandering aside, one thing is for sure: Recherché has absolutely been worth the wait, and is one of the most impressive musical feats from a North East band in recent years.