Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Eccentric Orbit — Attack of the Martians
(EOCD01, 2004/2014, CD)
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 Sean McFee, Published 2004-09-01
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.
by Jon Davis, Published 2015-08-07
Related artist(s): Eccentric Orbit
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