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The Welcome Table

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    8
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The Liverpool collective's second album follows enjoyably enough in the vein of the first, answering the not-illogical question "Why don't more of these hugely populated bands use as their starting points early-'70s electric Miles and contemporaneous P-Funk instead of an overplayed copy of Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s first disc?" Not that the band itself would claim it's created the sequel to the likes of On the Corner by any means -- the group's musicianship is skilled but the end results are fairly formal in the end -- but a similar sense of expansive depth and fluid grace mixed with volume typifies The Welcome Table at its best. Opening track "The First League of Angels" is also the longest at nearly half an hour, and within three minutes everything from harp solos courtesy of Stan Ambrose to huge and filthy rhythms have made a bow, even while distant, keening guitar drones fill out the space further in the background. The song slowly melts into a stripped-down break with pace provided solely by guitar and bass before the drums kick back in, strong but never in the overwhelmingly epic sense of so many fellow travelers. The remainder of the album consists of shorter-by-comparison efforts (between six to ten minutes on the whole) that run a further range from murky ambient collages ("The Buzzard and the Lamb," which itself evolves into a polyrhythmic jam) to more strong funk grooves and beats, as well as further explorations elsewhere, such as the dub-influenced pace and feel of "The Sea Wolves." The guitar shrieks and stabs on "The Chart" shoot through the arrangements like laser scalpels, even while more harp adds a strange grace to everything, compounded by fragmentary swirls of string parts, while the nagging siren feedback at the heart of "The Babies" ends the album on an unsettled, tense note.

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