Album review: KAPREKAR’S CONSTANT – The Murder Wall


Talking Elephant Records [Release date 25.03.22]

Kaprekar’s Constant is the brainchild of a couple of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Al Nicholson and Nick Jefferson. Kaprekar’s Constant is rounded out with David Jackson of Van Der Graaf Generator fame (sax, flutes, whistles), Mark Walker (drums & percussion), Bill Jefferson (vocals), Dorie Jackson (vocals, vocal arrangements) and Mike Westergaard (piano, keyboards, backing vocals). There is a special guest in Judie Tzuke on ‘Years To Perfect’.

‘The Murder Wall’ is a concept album, telling stories of climbers attempting the North Face of the Eiger. The band draw on stories set between the years of 1935 and 2007, telling of those who attempted one of the most dangerous ascents in mountaineering. Since 1935, at least sixty-four climbers have died, earning it the German nickname Mordwand, literally “murder(ous) wall”.

Although a concept album naturally has the listener assuming it will be a prog rock delight, Kaprekar’s Constant have a distinct folk side to their music too, which makes for a heady and enjoyable mix on this album.

The whole album holds together well, although there are three real stand outs. Firstly, ‘Victorious’ with its pomp keys and rousing chorus is a ‘must hear’. Judie Tzuke adds her vocal magic to the short but sweet ‘Years to Perfect’ and finally, ‘A Silent Drum’, which recounts the story of a son who finished the climb some forty years after his father died on the same climb. It shows off the band’s folk side with plenty going on musically behind the vocals of Dorie Jackson and Bill Jefferson. A touch of Mike Oldfield on the this one in the arrangement.

Sit back, get the headphones on and immerse yourself in a wondrous soundscape that truly brings to life the mountaineer’s tales and that of the mountain itself. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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