Vera : Antimatter – the brainchild of Mick Moss – has a new album and that came as a surprise! ‘Black Market Enlightenment’ is the successor of ’The Judas Table’ (2015) and the result of eighteen months of hard work. The seventh album had to be something special and thus Mick tried to write songs while using as much as possible unusual instruments. He started from scratch so to speak, tabula rasa. Flute, qamancha (Armenian violin) and saxophone grace the psychedelic concept. Is this album experimental? Not in a way that you should feel estranged from Moss’s well-known art: the emotive song-writer with the heartfelt voice really leads and defines the genuine songs. Only the musical framework has expanded towards a new universe. And that sounds truly impressive!
Well, it is true, Antimatter has always had a trademark concerning deep-draught, sensitive songs, but the addition of certain influences makes this album really different – even refreshing – in comparison with previous works. One may call this an agreeable development, not too brusque but enriching. At the beginning, during ‘The Third Arm’, we experience a kind of bridge between former work and now. Everything sounds very familiar, with Mick’s mighty voice in a rather depressive song (watch the clip), but the foundation is created on synthesizers and sophisticated drums, although there is also an outburst with guitars. Mick played all the traditional rock instruments like guitar, bass and keyboards and that’s done to a turn of course. In ‘Wish I Was There’ we find an intermezzo with flute adding a prog-like flavour, and a captivated spoken passage. Female vocals in the background. Carla Lewis can be heard in several songs as backing vocalist. The most playful song – with cheerful eighties synths that haunt you – happens to be ‘This Is Not Utopia’ with saxophone of guest musician Paul Thomas. Percussion and prominent bass patterns are featured in ‘Partners In Crime’, while only in the next songs the influences after Mick’s visits to Armenia increase.
The quiescent ‘Sanctifaction’ replaces the guitar solo by sax, followed by oriental tinged violins, all this on a very firm rock foundation. Next the road is open for the most experimental song ‘Existential’. Drums and sonorous sounds are regaled with the magnificent chants of Mick. We hear any esoteric female vocals (Aleah Starbridge who passed away way too early?) and the dynamic composition is abundantly relished with eastern violin (qamancha). It results in an original approach with haunting structures, including going in crescendo with more anger. The brief ‘What Do You Want Me To Do?’ is genuine and sober, with nice flute. The wilder ‘Between The Atoms’ has true power. Don’t think this album does not steadily rock! Mark the spatial intermezzo with dark voice, next guitars and violin go into an experimental phase. Finally synths and drums are the base on which the velvet voice of Mick once again impresses in the occluding track ‘Liquid Light’. This makes me conclude that this turned into a modern protest album of these current times, created with proper insight and knowledge. When musicians do not shun development, without ignoring themselves, then you have the best results. ‘Black Market Enlightenment’ happens to be such a gem on which both challenges have led to phenomenal outcome!