Earthling Society - Sci-Fi Hi-Fi
(4 Zero Records)
From Aural Innovations October 2009 update
Their last album, 2008's Beauty and the Beast, saw UK band The Earthling Society taking a bit of a departure, delving into a generally more psychedelic pop direction. I wondered if that was the overall direction they were taking the band in, but it seems for now a one-off experiment, as 2009 finds the band returning to the intense and layered space rock they've come to be known for on such albums as Tears of Andromeda and Plastic Jesus & the Third Eye Blind.
Like those albums, this one is another stellar winner, and perhaps even better thanks to a more focused approach. With an eerie deep space drone that is soon pierced by a restless rhythm, the album begins with the title track, a wild space rock ride that reminds me a bit of Dark Sun at times. The vocals range from seductively soulful to punkish in style, but are purely Earthling Society. Musically, the track careens from catchy song writing to experimental noise to swirling organ and synth solos, but all gels into a perfect blend of the three. Tempel ov Flaming Youth, the nearly 11-minute piece that follows is a completely different story, being a wildly unpredictable romp that starts with five minutes of ambient exploration in a Krautrock style before launching into an almost heavy metal style workout that sounds like it's going to be some dark jamming until it breaks into... a triumphant orchestral lead! And just when you think it's going to quiet down again, Tempel rushes into a chaotic, nearly freeform freak out of a coda that leaves you breathless. And so it goes with Sci-Fi Hi-Fi. Each song is a surprise, from the Ozric Tentacles like EA1729, to the psych/folk weirdness of The Lantern, to the lush and dreamy excursion of A Future Dream, with its gorgeous synth leads and memorable vocal melody. There's not a song under 7 minutes on the album, and in fact, it's all capped off by the monster 20 minute epic, E.V.I.L.U.S.A., certainly one of their best songs to date, and at times, one of their heaviest too! From its spaced out beginnings it weaves through blistering heavy psych to a lengthy passage of strumming acoustic guitars and a sighing electric lead that eventually breaks into a truly epic guitar solo that is just stunning. And finally it all emerges into a dazzling and freaky space disco finale. Yes, you read that right, space disco! While that may sound cheesy, in the hands of these phenomenal musicians it is definitely not. It soars with spooky Theremin-like synths, funky guitars and swirling strings, bringing to a close this extraordinary album.
Whether you want to call it space rock, or something unique unto itself, Sci-Fi Hi-Fi remains one of the best releases of the year so far, and quite possibly the best album from The Earthling Society that we've heard yet. Put it on your "to get" list, because you don't want to miss this one.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald
Let me just start by saying that this might be the best record I have heard so far this year. This very eclectic UK band have basically been releasing
a new record every year since their first one in 2005 and this is their fifth and best. One reason for the different sound on the new CD could that half that
band are new, with new bass and synth players (Joe is much more an analog spacey guy!). The CD starts off with an amazing psych-space rock track with a really cool melodic thread that runs through it while the track maintains a really psychedelic feel and a total kraut rock like ending. Next up is Temple ov Flaming Youth which starts off like classic Hawkwind like territory with some very cool sax playing and layers of spacey synths and stuff, then the totally spacey guitar by Fred kicks in and is mixed to the right channel while the synths and voice dominate a bit more in the left. EA1729 features again some pretty psyched out guitar and melodic keyboards and finally Fred let’s rip with some wild lead guitar and Joe counters with some great synth stuff in a fusion chamber of psychedelic sounds. The Lantern is a very tripped out acidic number which features some acoustic guitar and sounds like it could have been recorded in 1968. A Future Dream starts very laid back and spacey like Pink Floyd with some really nice guitar from Fred. His vocals on this record are very relaxed and stoned, which I like. There is a great synth solo at the end that will remind you parts of Dark side of the Moon. The CD ends with the 20 minute E.V.I.L.U.S.A. track… Glad that band speak their mind.. Anyway, this is really an amazing musical journey that everyone should sit down, and take one evening… Phew…. Great job Earthling Society! 10 out of 10…
Check out the Earthling society web sites at: http://www.myspace.com/earthlingsociety or http://www.earthlingsociety.co.uk
Visit the 4 Zero record label site at: http://www.4zerorecords.co.uk
Reviewed by Scott Heller