In 2022, the Captain released his fourth album, the absolutely amazing ‘Hidden Gems Chapter 3 – Mysterium Tremendum’ which I gave maximum marks to and declared it to be a “review killer” in that once it hit my player, I was unable to listen to anything else, greatly reducing my output for a time. It has taken longer than expected for Shaun to come back with his next album, because he and his family were the innocent victims of a road traffic accident where someone fleeing police drove into their car. It has taken eighteen very long months for everyone to work through the physical and mental injuries, which also had a huge impact on them in other ways as Shaun is a working musician as opposed to someone doing this as a hobby.

Through these terrible times, the Captain still had the need to create music,  albeit in a very slow, laboured, and somewhat sedate ‘late-night fashion’. Musically this is a very different release to what we have come to expect from him, far more thoughtful and reflective, with less energy, but more power and emotion. He provides vocals, bouzouki, mandolin and guitar, and here he has been joined by Damian Clark (keyboards, synthesisers, sound design) and  Wendy Ross (violins). We find the Captain taking his alternative folk roots, with all songs having his acoustic instrumentation at the base, and then lifting them into something quite different which brings in both progressive and ambient stylings. What is so hugely impressive with this release is the sheer presence of the man, he has created a swirling soundscape where he is at the very centre, somehow imbuing a sense of being and self into a world here that presence is often fleeting and passing. He is rooted, and the music is at times ethereal and magical, a gossamer web of strands being brought together in an incredible manner.

At any time this would be a remarkable release, but knowing what he was going through makes this truly something incredible and essential. The way he moves his vocals into clear falsetto is like no-one else I know, and there is clear direction and purpose, a single-minded laser vision of taking us on a journey, to where we know not. Since I first came across COTLW and ‘Hidden Gems Chapter 1’ in 2016 I have loved all his works, and is someone unique in the current scene, quite unlike anyone else around, yet at the same time he is wonderfully approachable and everyone I have played his music to wonders where he has been all their lives and why they have not previously come across the artist.

In this plastic, disposable, transient and permanently connected artificial world the reason is simple, Captain of the Lost Waves is a man out of time. His music is rich, thoughtful, deliberate and designed to last for aeons. Like rich swamp kauri it is full of depth and passion, something which people want to touch and cherish, and hold close to their hearts. A remarkable person has released a remarkable album, and the only reason I give this 10/10 is that mathematically I can’t give it anymore. Incredible. 10/10 Kev Rowland