Album review: THE LAST DINOSAUR – Wholeness


Indie [Release date 23.10.20]

Music can move us in so many ways, filtering through our lives in both the subtle and the obvious. It can seem to be that ever-present soundtrack to our days, a faintly heard radio, the background music in television or something we put on as background music whilst working or doing the housework.

Though we might hear music a lot, playing it for pleasure to relax us or to lift us as we sing along to a favourite song, seldom do we really sit and listen intently, the colours and tones washing over and into our brains, firing our imagination and reaching into our soul.

The Last Dinosaur demand to be listened to. Really listened to. Although it may be relatively brief, clocking in at under a half hour, this new album stands as something that enthralls and turns casual curiosity into avid devotion. There is something in here that captivates both heart and mind in a way that very few manage, the seven tracks on display each drawing you in and stripping back layers of emotion that go way beyond the norm.

You feel as if you’re staring into the very soul of main man Jamie Cameron as he leaves raw nerve endings bare to the harsh gaze of the listener, managing to bring a depth of emotion and previously undiscovered colours.

There is pain, but it would be very wrong to get the impression that ‘Wholeness’ is maudlin as its most certainly not, a sense of imagination and hope runs through it and there’s always some delightful detail that guarantees a smile. Using both the traditional tools of vocals and instruments, the album also includes, amongst other things, field recordings to build up atmosphere, the effect wholly immersive.

From the opening notes of ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’ with its rolling piano and swelling strings and brass, the otherworldly yet familiar sounds of pylons join the fray as the track builds, setting the tone for the wildly inventive imagination herein. ‘In the Belly of the Whale’ mixes spoken word by Amy Acre, gentle piano and the sound of a typewriter keys to intoxicating effect and ‘Shower Song’ glories in its shuffling beat and pining vocals performed in a low whisper.

As you make your way through the album it would be wrong to over analyse each track as, whilst there is certainly Cameron’s own heart at the centre of each, the listener is led to draw their own resonant feelings amongst the myriad of sounds. The overall effect is both one of shared emotions and memories all whilst being intensely personal. A rare quality indeed.

‘Spirit of the Staircase’, with its haunting sax and dark, mysterious midnight jazz feel sounds like a lost track from the brilliant Gabriel Yared ‘Betty Blue’ soundtrack and the aptly named ‘Untitled Piece for Piano and Viola’ is a study in understated beauty.

The simple, yet beautifully pure, sound of children playing accompanies the melancholic and fragile ‘Errant Child’ and the equally breathtaking ‘The Wheelbarrow’ draws things to a serene close, the notes fade whilst the memory lingers long in the mind. Its creation may have been a very hard and torturous one for the artist but its one that was certainly worth persevering with and sharing. A very personal and artistic triumph, ‘Wholeness’ shimmers and dazzles like no other. Truly outstanding. *****

Review by Paul Monkhouse

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