Label: Backwater Records - OLK CD 016 • Format: CD Album Digipak • Country: UK • Genre: Rock • Style: Psychedelic Rock
The latest second coming of prog sees the rise of Ipswich's uncanny fascsmilie of prog's first coming, whose second album sounds straight out of the UFO Club. Ever since man learned to crane his neck and look up we've been staring at the stars, wondering how to get up there and, that goal achieved, wondering how to travel even further. So maybe it's not a coincidence that the dawn of the space age overlapped with the dawn of the psychedelic age, as millions of people without a science degree or NASA credentials realized they could travel just as far, only inwardly.
Space became a state of mind, an alternate dimension accessible to anyone willing to open the door. Or Pandora's Box, as the case may be, since the last thing any rock act needed was a culturally encouraged license for self-indulgence. After all, the perils of traveling toward inner space were practical: As amazing as the place may be, it's awfully hard to bring someone along with you.
Not that Pink Floyd, Sun Ra, or any other ambitious interstellar travelers didn't try their best to lead the way, but more often than not their music provided the soundtrack for people already there, not people hoping to tag along.
Hailing from Ipswich, the Future Kings of England are the ultimate tag-along, coasting on the year old jetstream left by Pink Floyd's trailblazing freakouts. It's a familiar space-prog universe populated by pulsing minor-key drones, alternately shimmering and sinewy guitars, Mellotrons and languid vocals beamed from some far off place, floating through the sonic ether in Bartholomews Merman - The Future Kings Of England - The Fate Of Old Mother Orvis approximation of a bygone era, in search of a midnight laser show.
But from their flare for grandiose dynamics to an instinct for the epic, the Future Kings of England also get just about every period detail right. The cymbal and organ swells, dreamy guitar melody and wobbly bass line pulling along the opener "Dunwich" and leading to the first of many surprise explosions is just a taste of things to come.
The hypnotic hum of phased guitars and diligent drums of "Mustard Men" cross the melodic mysticism of Meddle -era Floyd with the menace of early King Crimson, hitting a furious double-time peak four minutes in before resolving itself with an acoustic reverie overlaid with a chiming electric solo.
Gothic, ghostly or, for that matter, Ghost-ly effects soon envelope the strumming and the sound of laughing children brings us to a portentous pause followed by sleepy organ, stately Gilmour-esque guitar and ultimately drums driving the song to Bartholomews Merman - The Future Kings Of England - The Fate Of Old Mother Orvis might have Impressionable - Various - Dope-Guns-N-Fucking In The Streets Volumes 4-7, in another era, the end of Side One.
Side two, as any progger knows, is where the real action is, and the Future Kings of England don't disappoint. Brushed drums, organ and a lilting straight-forward melody introduce more spooky sound bites keen ears might pick out such buzzwords as "Satan," "witches," "sacrifices," and "dead" before the trio drifts off into another transitional realm. No doubt anyone making up a plot as the song goes along will find Bartholomews Merman - The Future Kings Of England - The Fate Of Old Mother Orvis increasingly imposing cyclical guitar pattern and massed vocals that eventually appear perfect fuel for fertile imaginations, and the turn to near-tribal psych freakout immensely fulfilling.
By the time it reaches its mysterious musical endpoint, we've arrived on the sidelines of the court of the Crimson King, triumphant and exultant, with ringing church bells sounding out as if to underscore the point. No, not everyone's taking the same trip, and the journey may lead to different Tornado - Dave Bridge - Tornado/The Tide. But there's no question the Future Kings of England are quite adept at if not taking you along then certainly pointing you in the right direction.
If that direction at first seems to be backwards, give it another chance. Playing with the very fabric of time and space has a way of turning things topsy turvey, and once you get settled in it becomes clear the band may be traveling forward after all, just on another plane, in a parallel dimension, where dinosaurs still walk the earth, the sun rises in the west, dogs sit at the dinner table and the UFO Club never shut its doors.
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