Australian musician Paul Foley has been on the Aural Innovations radar since our earliest days through his band Brainstorm. Last year I interviewed Paul in conjunction with reviews of the two most recent Brainstorm albums and Paul’s book that compiled the science essays he wrote for the Central Victorian Weekly newspaper (CLICK HERE to check it out).
With the other members of Brainstorm too busy to dedicate time to the band, Paul has continued working on songs, the result being his new solo album, Shape in Spacetime. Paul is equal parts Proghead and Space Rocker and it shows throughout the set (The album dedication is to NASA, Yes, Hawkwind and the legacy of Albert Hoffmann).
Songs like Twelve Hundred Miles and Needless and Furtive Reminders feature acoustic guitar and vocals backed with Proggy keys, the latter being an especially tasty slice of 60s flavored Folk-Prog. The war themed Raven is one of my favorite songs, featuring 70s Prog, Folk and Psychedelic influences, with beautiful dual guitars and flute, punctuated by moments of sharp intensity supplied by electric guitar chord jabs. The lyrics on Symphony of Atoms reveal the introspective science buff within Paul: “When what I am returns to dust, amino acids, proteins as I must”. Play to Win is one of the heavier rocking songs, though still largely acoustic driven. Again we’ve got really nice multiple guitar parts, both acoustic and electric, and a trippy spaced out keyboard solo. Taliban is a song Paul completed in 2013 and created a nifty video for which he uploaded to YouTube (CLICK HERE). It’s one of the highlights of the set, featuring a cool and strange combination of robotic electro grooves and swirling Middle Eastern themes. As Paul describes, “This song is not about religion; nor is it an angry song. It’s about people, cruelty, waste, and terrible, terrible sadness; tragedies of history that can’t possibly be as inevitable as they seem, and the conflicting loyalties that rule all our hearts.”
The quietly dreamy Assam combines lightly audible, spacey background synths, a lulling flute melody, and kinetic electro percussion, along with Paul’s mournful vocals. I love the acoustic guitars on Caverns of Night, backed by soaring spacey keys and an intense atmosphere. Ditto for the guitars on the upbeat Parachute Shop, which sounds like a good time Folk-Pub rocker, despite the severity of its message. Rounding out the set are two lengthy stretch out tracks. Folk-Prog meets Space Rock on the 13+ minute Journey’s End, a multi-themed, mostly instrumental workout that incorporates a banquet of 70s influences and some mind-bending compositional twists and turns. And the 11 minute Dracula’s Bride is a lively rocking cautionary tale of what we’re doing to the planet in the name of big business and consumer culture. Overall an impressive solo work that will appeal to Space Rock fans with a penchant for Folk and acoustic driven Progressive Rock.
For more information visit the Brainstorm web site at: http://brainstormoz.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz