John G. Perry

Sunset Wading

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A minor figure in the mid-'70s U.K. progressive scene (his highest-profile gig was as a bassist in Caravan for a couple of years), John G. Perry only released one album in that decade, 1976's slight but charming Sunset Wading. The album's primary gimmick is that throughout the background of its entire 40-minutes runs an ambient field recording of a rural sunrise, beginning with the first rooster crow of the day. (Why an album with an early-morning theme like this has the word "Sunset" in its title is never adequately explained.) Over this pleasantly unobtrusive environmental sound, Perry and a small group of friends featuring producer Rupert Hine, former Robert Fripp associate Michael Giles, and two members of the cult-heroes Italian progressive group Nova play a largely instrumental song cycle highlighted by some delicate musical passages (as on the absolutely lovely "Birds and Small Furry Beasts") that recall both the more lyrical side of the jazz-influenced Canterbury progressive scene and the poppier Italian progressive rock scene. The seven-minute centerpiece track, "Dawn," is the standout, slowly building from an almost Brian Eno-like ambient introduction to a resounding climax. Other, more rhythmic tracks recall the mid-'70s work of Gong and the post-Robert Wyatt, fusion-oriented Soft Machine. Unfortunately, as this parade of name-dropping shows, Perry never quite manages to put it together enough to sound like a new and inventive artist, himself. Although Sunset Wading is an enjoyable and often very good listen, there's not much new here.

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