Scottish experimental composer/multi-instrumentalist Richard Youngs has recorded several albums in a wide variety of styles, in between his regular gigs as a food journalist and his improbable success at coaxing the reclusive Texan cult hero Jandek into performing his one and only live show ever. Ilk is his on-again, off-again partnership with the similarly enigmatic Andrew Paine, and Canticle is the duo's second album, coming a full seven years after the first. Like 1998's Zenith, Canticle is Youngs and Paine's homage to the full flower of '70s symphonic prog. The Moody Blues are all over this album, especially in the doomy, portentous spoken word passages of "Honour's Prospect," and so are Yes (in Youngs' fleet electric guitar solos, very much in the Steve Howe mold) and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (in the sheer, unapologetic, cracked majesty of these seven lengthy tunes). There are other contemporary bands that genuflect in the direction of King Crimson and Barclay James Harvest, but none of them quite have the guts to go all the way and attempt to re-create the early-'70s glory days of Harvest and Vertigo Records, complete with a Hipgnosis-style sleeve. On the impressively huge, bombastic Canticle, Youngs and Paine do exactly that.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason