NOOKEE’s haunting live, single-take recording of Claroscuro often left me in speechless astonishment. Over its organic cinematography and coloring, all the way to the fantastic musicianship it so elegantly displays. Claroscuro is a mesmerizing work of folk that’s unusual, rich, and brimming with experimentation.

NOOKEE, a group based in the Welsh Cardiff, are showcasing an immensely stand-out talent on their multi-colored new album Claroscuro, a 7-song concept album about a woman’s journey escaping the shackles of her own mind, navigating landscapes such as warm waters, the devil’s dining room, a crucifixion, and being too close to the sun.

The artistry on Claroscuro easily extends outwards from its auditory value via the accompanying short film, visually documenting the songs, the performances, and the arrangements happening in real-time. The production is stunning with the songs being recorded as live performances where you can see the magic happening in real time. From the sublime vocals of twin frontwomen, memorable and intense, to the fantastic, guitar and organs-led instrumentals with more than a few modulated guitar tones that add a lot of texture to already intricate compositions.

Experimental as the concept is, Claroscuro’s songs are never challenging to sit through. Representing a successful marriage between Dark Side of The Moon era Pink Floyd and the quirky, freeform compositional cues of Frank Zappa, the music on the album is simply entertaining. Digging deep, we come face to face with a group with immense talent. A group that chooses to show instead of telling, and a group that take immense pleasure and pride in every aspect of their artistry. From the succulent grooves, unusual timbres, choreography, and vast variation in musical styles, the film oozes with a charisma that is irresistible, aided by the intoxicating music.

Styles that vary from soul, blues, and R&B, to Samba and world rhythm, NOOKEE are acing whatever musical realm they land on by the grace of the wonderful vocal harmonies delivered by the twins, rhythms delivered by a powerhouse drummer, a percussionist, and bassist/keyboardist who is masterfully managing both instruments at the same time, as well as a pair of incredibly artful guitarists who not on one occasion resorted to using tones that were textbook or ordinary. For such an expansive group of artists, the sound is rarely ever bombastic. Instead, the music on Claroscuro exudes a restrained and collected warmth that is almost reassuring to behold. A group capable of delivering such hellish extravagance such as that witnessed on ‘Devil’s Dining Room’ as good as the remarkable gracefulness found on ‘Too Close to the Sun/Warm Over Water – Reprise’ are definitely a group of musicians that are to be taken absolutely seriously.

‘Crucify Me’ is a wonderfully psychedelic trip that soothes the soul and mind with guitar wails and a minimal arrangement. A spiritual successor to ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ if such a thing was ever possible. Chill, impactful, groovy, and ends with an absolute banger of a jam. If Pink Floyd were to have a moment with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, in a galaxy far far away, ‘Crucify My’ would be a plausible outcome. ‘Homestretch’ is an exquisite piece of melodic and shapeshifting samba. Showcasing the talents and restraint of each of the group’s members better than any other song on the album, ‘Homestretch’ is an arresting listen that’s rhythmically and melodically fulfilling to put things in the mildest terms.

Claroscuro is a sublime listen from one of Britain’s most exciting names. Balanced compositions, performances, and mixes are all a showcase to the group’s immense musicianship and production value. A pure pleasure to the senses.