Album review: CLIVE MITTEN – Suite Cryptique: Recomposing Twelfth Night 1978-1983

CLIVE MITTEN - Suite Cryptique: Recomposing Twelfth Night 1978-1983

Bumnote Records/Twelfth Night Records [Release date 02.04.21]

I have to say the band Twelfth Night have completely passed me by.  I’ve known vaguely their name but never really investigated their music, that is until the arrival of a new double-CD from founder member Clive Mitten.

The band have their origins in that dawn of so-called neo-progressive rock in the 1980s along with bands such as Pendragon, Pallas and Jadis.

They can perhaps best be termed a collective with band members changing regularly over the years although retaining the core of guitarist Andy Revell and Brian Devoil on drums.  Some gaps in the history when the band went on hiatus have not helped continuity or consistency either.  Mitten left the band in  early 1987.

The band’s first major landmark was an appearance at the Reading Festival in August 1983 but a major label signing eluded them until 1986 and that didn’t last long.

More recently the band have reformed with Mitten and Andy Sears (vocals, guitar) but to complicate things the core members called themselves The Cryptic Clues.

‘Suite Cryptique’ follows this later incarnation if only in titling.  Clive Mitten has used Lockdown to revisit some of the earlier pieces in a classical style.  There are reworkings of ‘Live At The Target’ (originally released in 1981), Fact And Fiction (1982) and Live (And Let Live) (1984) and the two key pieces ‘The Collector’ (1983) and Creepshow (1983).

As Mitten says, this is not a covers album but more a re-imagining.  As a Twelfth Night novice I can’t comment on how these arrangements differ from the originals but I can approach it as many will: an orchestral album that stands on its own merits.

And for both the uninitiated and the converted he provides illuminating liner notes on his approach, even if out of sequence.  For the former, it might have been better to have separated out the various song constituents on the actual CD (and reflected in the track listing) whilst still maintaining the pieces’ continuity.

No real orchestra players were harmed in the making of this epic production, and it is a real credit to Mitten and his strings and “gin consultant” Jane Mann (widow of early Twelfth Night vocalist Geoff Mann whose painting adorns the cover) that he achieves a very natural soundscape.

The overall effect is very tuneful and stirring in equal measures and widescreen in execution.  In fact at times the depth and feel harks back to that very English of composers Vaughan Williams, although Mitten is actually influenced by modern classicists as much as the Bachs and the Beethovens.  But be prepared for surprises; there’s a touch of Lalo Schifrin in the piece ‘Live (and Let Live)’ which ultimately emerges as the lost soundtrack to some Hollywood spy movie.

I am sure, as with many of these projects, it will have punters looking up the website and finding out more about this band through the ages.  And the website also gives access to a rich heritage of live and studio material, from the earliest days.  Another excuse to unload that pent up Lockdown cash, but only after a quite wonderful two-hour listen.  *****

Review by David Randall

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 22 May.

Next session: Sunday 17 July.

Check out previous videos here:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 12 June 2022.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 14 June 2022.

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages:

Power Plays w/c 27 June 2022 (Mon-Fri)
REVIVAL BLACK Broken Home (TMR Records)
FLOYA Epiphany (indie)
TWISTER Own Worst Enemy (indie)
MODERN MIMES Down And Dead (Curtain Call Records)
TUNGSTEN Northern Lights (Arising Empire)
THE GREAT LESLIE Feel Alive (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 27 June (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 GRACE Hope (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 CLASSLESS ACT Welcome To the Show (Better Noise Music)
14:00-16:00 TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT Day By Day (indie)

Popular (last 30 days)

This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), ALL POSTS and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply