By its very definition, Suite Cryptique is a musical riddle, one which has been in the offing for the past 40 years. Rather like his passion for cookery (check out the album's credits), Clive Mitten, multi-instrumentalist and composer in Twelfth Night loves deconstructing and rebuilding, in this instance, some of the band's most iconic pieces from 1978-1983 in an orchestral setting. But if you listen carefully throughout the two hours, you will hear echoes of the band in all their early pomp.
Mitten fuses the compositions with some of his personal influences such as the classical greats, Bach, Beethoven, Wagner and Mahler, together with some of the modern giants such as Glass, Reich and Adams.
Live At The Target revisits the band's legendary live album starting with almost a hymn-like keyboards section which builds into a sustained chord sequence with some subtle percussion undertones that sweep and glide effortlessly across the speakers. There's even a helicopter circling overhead, a recurring theme from his previous solo album Age Of Insanity (2018, see review).
Live And Let Live is flightier and more cinematic in scope and style, shape shifting until it arrives at a huge church organ-like passage, which elevates it further. The piece takes a big jump into a jazzier mode before it veers off into a dreamier soundscape. There are some goosebump moments along the way.
The Collector has an early menace with sinister footsteps before that huge church organ comes in again, followed by a pounding beat. And from there, it takes us on a huge journey, not a million miles from the original version. A lovely harp and handclaps come in and the whole song sails along majestically. Plucked strings make appearances before the piece settles into a regular musical motif, Mitten's characteristic throbbing bass emerging in the background. The footsteps return later.
Fact And Fiction is the longest track, harking back to probably their finest hour in terms of classic songs, which are repurposed. Some of the original songs are very distinct as with the strings and rhythmic spoken section in We Are Sane. Finally, the classic Creepshow is given an overhaul, full of rich violin strings and there's even a soundalike Psycho shower scene sequence in it.
It's a lofty listen, full of stimulating crescendos and elegantly restrained interludes. Some Twelfth Night aficionados might find it a Sequence too far, but its ambition and achievement are remarkable. I'm sure Mitten would also relish the thought of listeners going through it bar by bar to find those original, cleverly disguised Twelfth Night sections.
**** Alison Reijman
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