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KING MARTHA - * Recommended *
:: Ist ::
16 January 2006 / No Label Required / 13-Trk CD / Pink Box

The saxophone is quite rightly regarded as the scourge of pop music instantly adding equal portions of sleaze and cheese. It’s a bold move then that veteran eclectic pop act Ist choose to start their magnum opus with said brass instrument. It is for this reason together with their huge arrangements and the abundance of piano (Keane anyone?) that Ist could be quite unfairly dismissed as middle of the road.

Once your senses recover from the apparent 80s mainstream aesthetic of opener ‘Momentary Glitch’ you’ll realise that there is considerably more to Ist’s second long player than such tacky mediocrity. Further good news is that the sax is rapidly shelved after that.

Ist peddle powerful, positive pop anthems; the kind that have experienced the dark side and lived to tell the tale from a stoical, romantic angle. As well as immense – the additional musician credits fills up about half a page – arrangements are lively and fresh injecting vibrancy into a whole range of ambiences. Kenton Hall’s impressive vocals generally convey angst but soundscapes vary from ballads, to lounge to funk and rock and everything in between. ‘Audrey Hepburn’ which favours brass and strings over rock instrumentation is one particularly impressive example.

Unlike Skegness’ tourist board who might falsely claim that there’s something for everyone, in Ist’s case it happens to be true. Furthermore there’s a wad of commercial potential that would be doubtlessly exploited were the music industry not so downright ageist.



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