Sheffield’s Jarrod Gosling is a man of many talents. He has been on the UK top twenty singles chart with electronica pop duo I Monster, and has made a brilliant album and ditto EP with his other, and darker, duo, Cobalt Chapel. He has also done cosmic folk with Skywatchers and instrumental prog with Tim Bowness in Henry Fool. Speaking of the latter, Jarrod won the UK Prog Awards Album Cover Of The Year 2017 for his artwork on the Tim Bowness LP ‘Lost In The Ghost Light’.
But I like him most when he does something with his Regal Worm band.
After nigh on four years’ wait, now the third album, ‘Pig Views’, is finally here. With a quite Catholic-looking image depicting a woman with a child holding a piglet dressed in baby clothes, framed by stylised and neon-coloured woodlands, it could well win that cover award in 2019 again (nominations for 2018 are already closed). But it really should win the best album award this time.
In fact, this is the prog album you should buy if you don’t like prog rock.
And if you already like prog rock, well open the windows and let in this breath of fresh air, for heaven’s sake!
Although Jarrod probably plays at least fifteen different keyboards here, there are no solos. And there’s no pretentious bullshit.
By the way did I say there is also plenty of Mellotron and that this album is the third in a trilogy? Or that the whole thing was originally planned as a concept album? And that it ends with a twenty minute suite?
Like I sad, no pretentious bullshit!
In a 2014 interview, Jarrod told me that “I don’t think prog should be too serious, that’s why a lot of people don’t like it!” That still applies. ‘Pig Views’ takes all of prog’s trappings, throw them in the blender and spray them on the walls around you in beautiful patterns, like a disco light on your most fun night out.
The keyboards come off like Egg playing James Last. But instead of odd and technically advanced time signatures, Regal Worm is much more about percussive tempo shifts.
And the abandoned concept was about a flying pig creature. Hmm, flying pigs? Didn’t some other prog band use that idea…
But just because this is fun doesn’t mean it is to be taken lightly. The music here is ambitious. There is drama, and steep drops; operatic choruses that would feel at home on a Magma record; and passages that are as fragile as they are beautiful.
Musical and lyrical themes weave in and out from previous records. In fact, the very first digital single from 2013 was a version of ‘Jag Vet’ from the new album and the second EP opened with an alternate version of the opening track.
The first EP was called ‘Sausages’ by the way. But of course.
There are, however, new and interesting themes here as well. Some lyric snippets immediately stick in your mind, like on the track ‘Pre-Columbian Worry Song’:
“Slip off the edge of the world
Life’s a banana skin”
That captures the feeling of listening to this album pretty well.
Then there’s the church-like feeling of ‘Huge machine, you are so heavy’ where the title becomes a sacral chorus totally at odds with its meaning. The juxtaposition of hard and soft may be simplistic, but it is nevertheless memorable.
This is not just a great album. It is a significant one. Together with ‘Use And Ornament’ from 2013 and *Neither Use Nor Ornament’ from 2014, it completes a trilogy of albums so full of conceptual incoherence, charm, humour, melody, musical mischief and invention that Gong’s ‘Radio Gnome Invisible’ comes to mind, despite sounding not at all like that.
Genius on all levels. Pig out.