For Fans Of
Mineral frontman Chris Simpson has had his solo folk project Zookeeper on the go for a few years now, it hasn’t been a huge focus, he has only just released his second record, but it certainly does show a different side to his musical abilities, and one that arguably suits him better than most. ‘Pink Chalk’ is a gentle record, the opening of the album, Conclusions, features a smooth cello, finger-picked guitars and harmonised vocals, easing you into the journey ahead.
This journey at times can be quite an emotional one, the chanting Universe Song is quite powerful, like a mantra or some sort of spirit walk soundtrack, thanks to its rumbling drums and melodic backing vocals. The mid-way point, Dark Road incorporates some Lennon style piano and wailing vocals in a drifty setting that changes the feel of the record for the better, this floaty wavey little number is a hippie throwback that shows some diversity to Simpson’s sound.
This feel continues through to When I Had My Legs, a song possibly about a guy being hit by a train? I’m not sure, it’s as weird and quirky as its guitar tones, in a good way. Then begins the turn from happiness to sadness for the remainder of the journey, Bloodhounds is a beautiful acoustic ballad that sees a shift in Simpson’s vocals to a lower register which matches the deep finger-picked guitar notes extremely well.
The closing tracks provide some ending highlights, the title track, a haunting number that uses staccato vocal breaths as percussion and Two Part Invention, a slow, sad piano number, that ends what is other wise a bright little folk record on quite the sombre note.
Interestingly, Simpson’s vocals in this track feature little imperfections, which in a way prevalent throughout the entire record in various elements, however rather than being too intrusive, this little blips add to the realistic feel of the songs and help give the music some character.
Zookeeper remains a little something on the side for a select few to enjoy, those who know of Simpson’s work with Mineral may feel a little out of place here, but lovers of minimalist folk, or a soundtrack to ease into the morning with will no doubt give it a few spins.
2. Universe Song
3. Beam With Us
4. I Never Knew
6. Ain’t Playing
7. When I Had My Legs
9. Pink Chalk
10. Two Part Invention