[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
I was 2 when this record was begun. It may have taken some time for the pair who are The Dandelion Set to complete this album but in doing so they have transcended the concept of what one can be. It is now literally a compendium of decades and we pass through them via unconnected intervals; you must understand that aside from the first track on here which everyone is crowing about you really cannot date these pieces with any kind of accuracy. I suspect that may be the point, one must listen to all twenty tracks contained to attain any kind of understanding as to what our duo are up to.
There are numerous guests which augment their working core, obviously some are going to be better known than others. ‘A Thousand Strands’ has already been exhaustively reviewed by almost as many publications as there are songs to be heard here so let’s stick to the cunning compositions which Glyn Bush and PK Chown have hidden amidst the running order which haven’t been quite so venerated. One in particular, “Dark Doorway Launderettes” could well be my favorite on here. With it’s languid pacing and exceedingly sensual vocals you’d be forgiven for wanting to be some of the Benzedrine she’s talking about were it not for the continual shifting of those lovely piano parts that pull your mind this way and that; the apathetic lethargy of yet another day in bedsit land? Perhaps.
“Bottom Rung” and “Third Programme” spice things up a bit also, with pinpoint accuracy they bounce between strange visions of utopia gone to the dogs and a very unnerving yet calming familiarity; somehow this all makes sense, perhaps you’ve been here before but just can’t remember. These two can take even the most minimal of arrangements and flesh everything out in a matter of seconds. They’re so tasteful in how they choose to place the elements in their work that you wouldn’t be able to stand it if they tinkered with a single note, which is an error far too many make. For them to have finished these two entries must have been a very daunting task, where do you draw the line? That guitar line must be in the just the right position, the vocals must drive and yet not dominate and all the effects have to swirl through everything at precisely the correct moments.
Forty-plus years is a long time to spend on any one thing but to have corralled so many disparate influences into a sequence of events probably demanded it. I’m more than a little awed by how well it all comes together on ‘A Thousand Strands’. For those who worry this is all just too topical, don’t. As I’ve said, you really have to take this on face value and allow it to sink in before trying to ascertain any kind of method to it. I’m still not sure there is one but between all the grooves, dead stops and insanely colorful flights of whimsy I don’t care. I’m just planning on playing it again as soon as possible.