Berry, famous for his appearances in TV comedy such as 'The I.T. Crowd', 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace', 'The Mighty Boosh' and his own surreal sketch show 'Snuff Box', is also a talented musician. Having released three albums to this point (an early, extremely hard to find effort called 'Jackpot' in 1995, 'Opium' in 2008 and 'Witchazel' in 2011), he follows up his fine work to date with album number four.
Influenced in equal measure by Mike Oldfield, an old-time, very English style of folk and, apparently, the film 'The Wicker Man', Berry crafts a fine collection of ballads and prog-rock infused pieces in which he plays practically everything.
Opener 'Gather Up' could almost be a traditional medieval hymn based on the annual harvest, with its list of herbs and crops reeled off by a choir of female and male voices. 'Devil Inside Me' showcases some of the prog-rock influences, but takes off into an uplifting chorus and a latter section soundtracked by some fine violin work. The slower paced 'Fallen Angel' is more acoustic and laid back, but retains a timeless quality that harks back to Berry's earlier work on 'Witchazel'. 'Medicine', which is one of the tracks from the album to recieve airplay, is perhaps one of the more commercial songs on offer, featuring a breezy, summertime melody and hints of organ amongst its shimmering guitars. 'Wolf Quartet' is a brief instrumental clarinet piece that is as different to the rest of the album as it could get, yet seems to fit in with the folk aspect of the songs. All this is a prelude to the centrepiece of the album, the ethereal, 9-minute plus 'Solstice' - and definitely the biggest indicator that Mike Oldfield's work is a massive influence here.
Starting off much like the introduction of Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells', the album enters a superb middle section featuring a coda that is repeated and added to by various other instruments before crashing back into a reprise of the opening section. It's a multi-layered, dreamlike track that is hands down the best thing Berry has recorded. You get the impression he could have carried on and made a full-on 25-minute suite of songs in the same vein, but as it is, the song never outstays its welcome and is constantly shifting tone and washes over you in a sheen of beauty.
'October Sun' brings us back to the folk side of things after the glory of the mid-point, with it's repeated line of 'like a bad dream that never goes away' bringing to mind the darker side of Berry's songwriting. 'The Signs' is perhaps the biggest departure from the source material on this album, and sounds like the sort of music that one might find on the soundtrack of a 1960s gangster flick during a nightclub scene.
'Knock Knock' is another whimsical number that is just begging to have you singing along and tapping your feet to its delightful, piano and acoustic lead tune. 'Bonfire' begins a trio of songs that ends the album focusing on the sort of village fete, May day celebratory feel the album conjures up. The instrumental 'Village Dance' continues this, a twee melody conducted on strings evoking the feel of a small community in the back of beyond partying gently.
'Farewell Summer Sun' is a rather melancholy ending to the album, giving a wistful feel after all that has come before. Fleeting female vocals add to the atmosphere on an LP that is hard to fault, and shows a more serious side to a man usually revered for his contribution to making us laugh.
RECOMMENDED TO DOWNLOAD: Gather Up/Medicine/Solstice/Knock Knock/Farewell Summer Sun