Best of 2019 #23: Graham Costello’s STRATA – “Obelisk”


On his debut album, Graham Costello attains a massive sound.  Each time I’ve listened to this album over the course of 2019, inevitably I shake my head in disbelief that it’s merely a sextet that generates this much energy.  But it’s more than just a big sound that distinguished Obelisk as something special; it’s the melodic intensity, and how it remains focused over a duration of nearly an hour and fifteen minutes of music.  Each piece clocks in, on average, at ten minutes in length, and there’s never a moment where the drummer’s STRATA ensemble wavers or meanders off or takes their eye off some distant spot on the horizon that represents the tune’s endpoint.  It’s driven music, and while the melody changes under this constant pressure, it’s never so much that it deviates from its original voicing.  It’s a remarkable feat just by way of this accomplishment, but how it lends to a dramatic listening experience is what elevates this recording up to a higher esteem.  I ended my write-up for The Bandcamp Daily by saying, “And drummer Graham Costello doesn’t let up for the entirety of his debut; the unrelenting waves of cinematic imagery accrue an intensity that never seems to level off, even after the last note has faded.”  And, really, that’s the best way to end it here, too.  This album has been in constant play on my stereo, and the impact of the music hasn’t lessened, not even a little.

Your album personnel:  Graham Costello (drums), Harry Weir (tenor sax), Liam Shortall (trombone), Fergus McCreadie (piano), Joe Williamson (guitar), and Mark Hendry (bass).

The album is Self-Produced, and released as BPQD Records.

Music from Glasgow, UK.

I wrote about the album for The Bandcamp Daily.

Cover art by Graham Costello.

Listen | Read more | Available at:  Bandcamp – Amazon