THE LOST ART – The Lost Art (own label)

TheLostArtI’m beginning to think that this will be a year when a whole lot of musical rules are going to be broken. Actually The Lost Art was released before Christmas but I’m not one to let facts get in the way of a good theory.

The Lost Art are Gordo Francis and Greg Hooper, two music teachers from Oxford who played as a covers band before deciding to write their own material. What they write is genre-defying to say the least. The album opens with the ethereal harmonies of ‘Equals’, due to be a single. I wasn’t taken at first, particularly when the band joined in with strings and indie drums, but by the third play I was beginning to recognise what a clever song it is. It’s followed by ‘Floating Away’, a hippyish title that disguises a gently jazzy song.

Both Gordo and Greg sing and play guitar and there is nothing on the album package or the duo’s website to identify them and their Facebook page doesn’t go out of its way to help, so: the one with the proper beard, who may be Greg, has a vertiginous vocal range, not unlike Martin Stephenson in some ways, and capable of an extraordinary near-falsetto on ‘Kicking The Habit’ and the one who wears the flat cap (who may be Gordo) has a more conventional tenor but their voices blend exceptionally well. They alternate lead roles; a feature of ‘Equals’ which is essentially a duologue.

They are augmented by violin and viola: Judith Hooper and Aliye Cornish and percussion by Tim Hooper (I’m seeing a pattern here) with Rick Foot on double bass. Together they are capable of switching from rock (topped out with a doo-wop ending) to the doomy piano-based ‘High And Mighty’. The production by Pete Hutchings is excellent as the intensity of the sound ebbs and flows.

Where The Lost Art appear on the genre spectrum, I really wouldn’t like to say, but the final track, ‘Distant Friends’ continues a telling line: “When did nostalgia take over your life?” This feels like new ground for all of us.

Dai Jeffries

‘Equals’ – the official video: