Orotund actor, comedian and writer Matt Berry – late of The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh and Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, for starters – could be the James Mason of his generation, rolling in voiceover clover, were it not for a startling propensity to burst into adamant song. It came as little surprise, therefore, that Berry’s 2011 acid-folk album Witchazel was as accomplished as it was: but more than a few listeners were taken aback by its apparent sincerity, give or take the odd (very odd) lyric.
Kill The Wolf is arguably even more impressive than its precursor in this respect: a mandolin, woodwind and tremolo guitar-inflected sound picture of the brown downs, harvest fecundity, fire-lit rites and crow-black folklore of sweetly sinister old England. Accordingly, Gather Up and the enticingly melodious October Sun come across like refugees from the Wicker Man soundtrack: postcard depictions of beaming, ruddy-cheeked, field-tilling sons and daughters of toil, but with a darkly unknowable subtext. While Knock Knock and The Signs admittedly veer close to theatrical, declamatory pastiche, Solstice – which laudably endeavours to track the journey from the shortest to the longest day – is nine-and- a-half minutes of bona-fide neo-prog: a shimmering three-way between Camel, the Super Furries and David Gilmour.