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For The Oracle

For The Oracle - Kind Child album art

Kind Child

30th April 2016 – Self-release

01. Bypass I – Sparrow
02. Bypass II – Friends Tonight (Strangers Forever)
03. Bypass III – Esté Paseo
04. Bypass IV – Vulture Pt. I
05. Princess I – Hive Minds
06. Princess II – “Take us back to Heaven, Jack.”
07. Below Sex I – Neon Wrists & Burning Eyes
08. Below Sex II – Don’t Go Ripping Your Mouth Open
09. Sin Of Omission I – Seeder
10. Sin Of Omission II – Leecher
11. The October Coda I – Wedding Atlantis & The Kind Child
12. The October Coda II – Broadway Morphine
13. The October Coda III – Vulture Pt. II

Anyone who thinks that Britain is a small island has never driven to Cornwall. Something peculiar happens with time and space as one heads toward the south-western tip of the country, so it invariably takes far longer to get there than anyone might reasonably expect. As a result, touring bands rarely make it down that far, save for the occasional show in Plymouth – yet it is in this oft-forgotten corner that For The Oracle have been quietly cultivating an ambitious proposition.

The scale of that ambition is apparent even before pushing the play button: For The Oracle’s seven piece line-up is bolstered by keyboards and saxophones, and Kind Child is comprised of five multi-part tracks, grouped in a fashion similar to “The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet” by Frank Zappa‘s The Mothers of Invention, The Mars Volta‘s Frances The Mute, or TesseracT‘s Altered State. In the wrong hands, such an arrangement could be a recipe for an unholy cacophony, but that’s certainly not the case here, because irrespective of whether you treat Kind Child as a five or thirteen track affair, it is an absorbing, unbroken 40 minute progressive adventure, and one of startling maturity for a debut release.

Built on a framework that draws its inspiration from the likes of early Tool, Karnivool and later Incubus, but with comparisons also possible to the likes of Oceansize, Sumer and (somewhat obscurely) The Postman Syndrome, For The Oracle deftly weave together big riffs, bigger choruses, more delicate atmospherics and a couple of neat little surprises – like a bossa nova interlude in “Below Sex“.

Bypass” kicks off Kind Child in a suitably anthemic fashion, with a hooky and immediate chorus appearing early and welcoming the listener in. The guitars are often characterized by taut, skittish riffing that wouldn’t have sounded completely out of place on a Hundred Reasons record, especially the verses of “Below Sex“. James’ sax solos are tastefully executed and have been built into the songs in a way that never feels contrived. The whole thing is underpinned by Karum’s particularly impressive, imaginative and fluid drumming, which does a lot of the heavy lifting in knitting the tracks together and helping the dynamics of the tracks flow naturally.

Sam’s vocals display a keen ear for a memorable melody, even if the occasional mid-Atlantic twang creeps into his voice at times, but he sings and screams with an obvious passion.

For The Oracle seem naturally adept at this longer-form style, with motifs appearing and reappearing across the tracks of Kind Child. They’ve even engineered the songs so that, as the album draws to a close, it deposits you right back where you started, allowing it to loop indefinitely, if you were so minded.

However, “Princess” does slightly overstay its welcome, with maybe just one or two repeated passages too many – but even then, not long enough to completely spoil the track. Unfortunately the bass rather disappears in the mix too, especially when the guitars step on the distortion, but propels the tracks well when it bubbles up.

These are minor niggles though, and do not detract from the considerable achievement Kind Child represents. For The Oracle are clearly bursting with youthful enthusiasm, and they can back that up with playing skills and songwriting acumen beyond their years. Providing they can deliver the goods on stage, For The Oracle will probably soon be able to break out from their quiet corner of the country. Be ready for them.