Dave Pen is an integral part of the successful progressive/alternative rock collective Archive as their co-frontman and co-songwriter. He also fronts the alternative rock duo BirdPen and has collaborated with film/TV composer Robin Foster on various projects that includes We Are Bodies.

After 25 years making music, Pen has announced the forthcoming release of his first ever solo album, ‘Abran Wish & The Light Party’, a concept record about a cult called The Light Party and its leader. “I have always been slightly obsessed with cults,” he states. “I’m fascinated by the mindset of it all and how easily we can be manipulated through fear, feelings, love and control. I’ve written songs about cult mentality for both Archive and BirdPen, but never an entire concept work. I wanted to create a story about someone who was lost with nothing but is then given a new chance of life from a higher power.”

As for the name of the record’s chief protagonist, Pen explains that “I came up with Abran Wish and his wife Adele Cutler after making anagrams from words involving cults, developing the story as I was writing the songs in my home studio in Southampton. I had wanted to make an album of my own for a while and for a first solo effort I wanted it to be made entirely by myself. The various lockdowns and complete disappearance of European touring for both Archive and BirdPen provided the opportunity to do so.”

Musically, the album traverses alternative and progressive rock, atmospheric and epic post-punk, subtle psychedelia and electronica. The piano-led opener ‘Awakening’ offers a haunted, dreamlike introduction to proceedings, with the later ‘Death Of Adele’ possessing the same qualities, while songs such as ‘Recruit’ and ‘Unseen Unheard Unknown’ embrace Krautrock and psych-tinged guitars and ‘It Won’t Be Like The Movies’ adds a spaghetti western flourish. In the closing ‘Bound’, a sampled hurdy-gurdy leads into an anthemic finale about leaving for another place that is not of this world. “I like to think that mixing these musical elements takes the listener on a journey during which the story can be told,” concludes Pen.

The first single to be released from the album is ‘The Storm’, a spatial acoustic song about the end times coming, when the walls are closing in, invaders are fast approaching and there is nowhere left to run. The video for it forms part of an eventual trilogy to promote the album, with ‘The Storm’ actually being part 2.

1  Awakening
2  Unseen Unheard Unknown
3  Abran & Adele
4  It Won’t Be Like The Movies
5  Recruit – Logic x
6  Caged Oceans
7  Death Of Adele
8  The Storm
9  Bound

first solo album 
out 29.10.21
(JAR Records)

pre-order link