Eccentric Orbit — Attack of the Martians
(EOCD01, 2004/2014, CD)
by Sean McFee, 2004-09-01:Eccentric Orbit was founded by bassist Bill Noland, and includes Mark Cella (Pye Fyte) on drums and Madeleine Noland and Derek Roebuck on keyboards. The keyboard sounds veer heavily towards the 70s, with use of Mellotron, organ, clavinet (both Nolands have played on Gentle Giant tribute albums), Fender Rhodes (or other electric piano), and some additional synthesizers. The music is entirely instrumental, and the album comprises five tracks ranging from six to fourteen minutes in length. The band keeps rhythms fairly standard and most compositions consist of either layering or trading off keyboard parts. Noland the bassist and Cella do a fine job nailing things down so that the space cadets can let fly on the keys. The sci-fi inspiration is fairly obvious and the melodic debts to “spooky alien music,” while de rigueur, are charmingly cheeky. There are a few personalities here; ELP-ish classicalism with lots of organ, funky fusion groove sessions led by Fender, and spooky SFF Mellotron sections to name three. When you throw more than one in a composition it adds some schizoid variety (in the literal sense, no Crim here). I’m a little surprised a group with such a Gentle Giant influence doesn’t use a bit advanced counterpoint, but you can’t have everything. Eccentric Orbit is a lot of fun to listen to, and will serve especially well as ear candy for vintage synth heads.
by Jon Davis, 2015-08-07:
Eccentric Orbit announce their intentions right out of the gate. Their debut album begins with some big Mellotron chords, then a theme on organ leads into a section where Mellotron chords are backed by a heavy bass part. Time signatures vary (11/8 generally dominates), and other keyboard instruments get added and subtracted from the mix. Overall, the sound could be likened to ELP with more aggressive bass playing and Mellotron added into the keyboard arsenal. Refreshingly, the keyboard playing doesn’t really resemble Keith Emerson, instead combining elements of Kerry Minnear, Rick Wakeman, and maybe a little Tony Banks. While some of the vintage keyboard sounds may in fact be modern digital recreations of the original instruments (not everyone has an old Mellotron stashed in their basement), the sounds are very good, certainly close enough to tickle the fancy of any fans of the classic tones. The compositions and arrangements are sophisticated, though they don’t delve into Twentieth Century developments as Gentle Giant did, nor do they much indulge in polyphony, being mostly chord-and-harmony based. For the reissue, a bonus track has been added, and it’s a doozy – the ten-minute “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” which was written around the time of the original album but recorded more recently with the band's current lineup. The big thing here is the addition of violin as an alternative melodic voice, providing a great foil to all the keyboard sounds. It’s another multi-part composition, with all the qualities that make the rest of the album work so well. The bottom line is that Attack of the Martians is every bit as much fun as the title implies.
Related artist(s): Eccentric Orbit
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more