The first few bars of The Man Out of Time are comfortable, accessible rock. As I heard the snare drum roll and slight twang in the guitar my shoulders dropped in relief. This is music I know, music I understand. Then my head tilted slightly to the left. Was that a hint of sitar? Back up & replay. And again. I don’t know what Eastern string instrument it is but I’m intrigued by the flavor. As I savor the notes there’s another subtle shift; synth lays out a stardust path supported with thick bass. I’m ready for wherever The Custodian is taking me.
As in the first track, Stop Talking opens with melodic acoustic guitar that builds the progression with each pass. I’m enjoying this folk prog song until a robotic voice (completely unintelligible to me) interrupts. Thankfully the robot leaves & I’m treated to the beautiful melody again. The vocals on this track are good though some of the runs & other vocalizations felt forced. They didn’t feel as organic as the music & the contrast felt heavy and awkward to me. On the other hand, the synth keyboards in the background were a great addition. They setup the guitar progression nicely & made for a perfect pinnacle before the end.
I’m beginning to love the folk-prog intros and Other People’s Lives is a delightful piece of music. I’m captured by the fluidity of the guitar combined with Richard Thomson‘s vocals. Rich’s vocals are smoother here; the runs and falls coming naturally. Additionally, the keyboard adds a richness to the composition.
Born of insecurity/this is just hollow escape/You have your own life to live/Stop living through a fantasy of other people’s lives.
Nariman Poushin‘s acoustic Spanish guitar is flying with a background that goes from Eastern to heavy rock with space rock synth flourishes — glorious! This is the cacophony of humanity & it is beautiful. Some measures feel discordant for a beat or two. Then it gels into a whole that is prog & world music.
are great at showing us the bare bones of a composition before rapidly building to full vocals, drums & keyboards along with the requisite blistering guitar. Persona opens with Owain Williams playing an uncomplicated, elegant progression. As the progression repeats it is fleshed out with percussion & strings. The vocals felt a little further back then would maybe be perfect but still strong.
A keyboard/piano progression provides a gentle exposition to Things We Tell Ourselves. Here I’m grabbed by a classic prog composition. Then the rock begins and nothing is held back, only conserved for the moment. My inner metal/alt child is exhilarated to be rocking out here! Eyes closed & air guitar fully engaged– Okay, I’m back. I had to stop writing & simply ride the notes. There are places where the phrasing reminds me of my favorite proggers, Shadow Gallery. Wait, was that a flute? And water pouring into a vessel? Now strings and more water? This is insane and creative and fantastic. The Custodian let everything loose here and the final 60 seconds are in-your-face shredding that will leave you wrung out, grinning from ear-to-ear.
From rock n roll heaven I’m transported to a terminal awaiting Departure. Complete with children yelling and garbled announcements, it’s like being in Hell’s train station. The Custodian is bound for the clouds though. Guitar chimes along with the keys & a space rock excursion is about to lift off.
As the guitar begins a steady climb, there is a keyboard scale that rises & falls in the background. By 2:00 I’m breathless waiting for something to happen. Then the guitar climax hits like a freight train at 2:22 and we’re soaring ’til 3:04 where we’re disembarked in a bewildered state; stumbling & shaken yet ready to ride again.
The Sun Is God has what I feel is Rich’s strongest vocal performance. Slightly rough, with breaks in just the right place, he sings with passion. In fact, Rich’s keyboards & drums are just right as well. With the space rock synth, Pitman’s bass and Owain’s guitar it’s the perfect time to let the music take over and simply listen.
The album wraps up with the title track, Necessary Wasted Time. I’m pleased to hear the strong harmonies in the vocals. They are warm, honeyed tones complimented by Michael Pitmanon bass.
The Custodian show all of their strengths here. Excellent guitar progression as the bridge with a slow jam blues riff pushed along by the relentless tick of time in the drums pushing the song along. There’s a break to keyboard that is reminiscent of Sunday church that turns into a progression more like a carnival in feel.
This album was written in its entirety by Richard Thomson about 4 years ago. I am happy that he was able to bring it to life & share it with us. There are some rough spots. Rather than spoil what is a very good album it shows that The Custodian has room to grow & that they can reach greater heights.
Richard Thomson – Vocals, Drums, Guitars, Keys
Owain Williams – Lead Guitars Nariman Poushin – Live Acoustic Guitar
Michael Pitman – Bass, Vocals