COSMOGRAF – Rattrapante (2021)
‘Rattrapante’, which roughly translates from French to “catch up,” is a chronograph movement with an additional seconds hand for the chronograph function superimposed over the normal seconds hand and an additional pusher. Simply put, the rattrapante is very difficult to manufacture and exceedingly rare clock artifact.
And it’s the perfect title for COSMOGRAF‘s new album – a band that creates a quite unique music blending progressive, melodic hard rock, pop. Call it Neo-Prog, but “Rattrapante” goes even further. And it’s fascinating.
One can’t help but root for an artist like Robin Armstrong. As the man behind the project called “Cosmograf”, he has a released a string of engaging albums over the past decade. While several earlier releases featured a wide range of notable guest stars, increasingly Armstrong has proven that he is more than capable of covering the bulk of the instrumentation, singing, writing and production himself, aside from his esteemed pick on drum kit, Kyle Fenton.
There is a sincerity which permeates his endeavors. Following up on 2019’s excellent “Mind Over Depth”, new album “Rattrapante” covers less heavy but more focused terrain dealing with matters of time. Indeed, a Rattrapante chronograph can simultaneously time 2 events at once, and is a French word deriving from ‘rattraper’ meaning ‘to catch up or recapture’.
The inspiration likely stems from Armstrong’s work in watch repair. As he is constantly surrounded by the clock, it’s no surprise that the theme would eventually “wind up” on an album.
Album opener “In 1985” starts off with atmospheric guitar noodlings, then it launches into its retro rocker vibe. The nostalgia of this likely-autobiographical track is fun for those of us who were there to witness Live Aid, Back to the Future and all of the other cultural references (yours truly was literally at JFK during that momentous concert event).
Title track “Rattrapante” is a bit more of a straight ahead rocker detailing the human casualties of mankind’s race to get into outer space at all costs. With a layered chorus that wonderfully launches Armstrong’s vocals out beyond the earth’s atmosphere, there also is a main instrumental theme of swirling organ and keys which gives Fenton space to bring his fills to the fore, always a welcome treat.
Lead single “I Stick to You” is our halfway point, unique in that it opens with acoustic guitar and features a duet of sorts during the chorus with guest singer Chrissy Mostyn. A romantic ballad with a twist, the narrator is a 300 year-old immortal who tries to reconcile his love for a woman who must pass, as all things do… except for him. Mostyn’s vocals come off particularly eerily thanks to Armstrong’s production techniques, a fitting touch for this haunting piece. Well done.
“Time Will Flow”, perhaps intentionally being one of the longest songs here, takes a measured pace in its development. The etheric opening contains utterly compelling atmospheres of piano, synths, long guitar lines, backing vocals in the distance and Fenton’s percussion up front in the mix. Let’s say right off the bat that Fenton’s performance is a perfect match for the arrangements throughout the album, satisfyingly mixed by Armstrong. A
“Memories Lie” is even better, a highlight of the album. Its main repeating guitar theme is surrounded by layers of transcendent keyboards, alternating with a chorus which is mainly accompanied by simple but effective acoustic guitar strumming. This unusual arrangement choice makes for an emotional delivery time and time again as it repeats throughout the song, pausing only for an interlude boasting the best guitar solo on the album.
As has been the case for a while now, Armstrong’s skilled hand at production is a crucial element in conveying his vision. His performance on guitar, bass and keys perfectly fits the music, while his unique vocals are wielded in such a way so as to give the music more character and grit.
“Rattrapante” offers another solid outing from Cosmograf and ultimately keeps us on Armstrong’s side, appreciating his gifts and hoping his songs will “take him far”, as he puts it on “In 1985”.
01 – In 1985
02 – Rattrapante
03 – I Stick to You
04 – Memories Lie
05 – Time Will Flow
Robin Armstrong: Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Bass
Chrissy Mostyn: Vocals on ‘I Stick To You’
Kyle Fenton: Drums, Backing Vocals
Tommy McNally: Spoken word (Time Will Flow)
Sound clips on ‘Rattrapante’ courtesy NASA