November 9, 2021

Dave Pen is one half of the duo that is the eclectic rock band BirdPen which formed back in 2003 as well as the singer and guitarist with the London based post-rock/progressive rock band Archive. This most curiously titled album, Abran Wish & The Light Party, is his first solo album on which he shows his total versatility by writing, producing and playing all of the instruments.

The reason for the intriguing title is that this is a concept album about the leader of a (fictitious) cult called ‘The Light Party’ and its leader which is a subject that has interested Pen for many years especially the process of manipulation that enables how such control of those inducted into the cult itself is maintained and channelled. It’s a tale than Pen has been aching to tell and the rather abstract subject matter lends itself to the eclectic and most reflective music than Pen delights in producing.

Of course, there are similarities with the music of Archive and Birdpen and it remains ostensibly a delightful composition of post-rock and progressive rock in its gentle and reflective form but all with a rather sobering, sinister touch. It’s obvious that there are influences that hint at Pineapple Thief, Porcupine Tree, No-Man and Nosound plus Mogwai but now we have the cynicism of a Roger Waters type dissection of the dark underbelly of society which gives the album a real edge and raises the interest level exponentially. The music is gentle and effectively simple and is really the background to the broader tale developing for us but Dave Pen is a master of taking complex stories and emotional musical backdrops that sound simple with the first cursory listen but spend time with this musician and you see into his thought processes and the talents that he brings to bear as each note has a life it its own but when everything is combined then we have a wonderful synchronicity with the end product being so much more than the sum of its parts.

Dave Pen makes music that has a reason and he brings it to life with that touch of magic that only the truly gifted possess. Each play of this quite wonderful and almost ethereal album delivers a new subtle nuance making this a real work of art from an artist for which the term genius is truly merited. Pen has also created several very affecting videos for the three singles from the album, Death Of Adele, The Storm and Bound, which shows him as the character Abran Wish having his own Pink style breakdown (as seen in the movie version of The Wall) and is all the more chilling because of its simplicity and the fact that we are unseen onlookers to emotion expressed in the raw.

Spend some time with the album then delve into his other albums too and you will realise just what a musician Pen is and you will then wonder how you ever managed without him in your life, pure class.

Abran Wish & The Light Party

  1. Awakening (4:48)
  2. Unseen Unheard Unknown (4:27)
  3. Abran & Adele (5:18)
  4. It Won’t Be Like The Movies (4:46)
  5. Recruit – Logic x (5:13)
  6. Caged Oceans (5:30)
  7. Death Of Adele (3:12)
  8. The Storm (4:33)
  9. Bound (4:13)