Soft Hearted Scientists — The Slow Cyclone
(The Hip Replacement B00MAL0W2I, 2014, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2014-09-24
Welsh pop-psych rockers Soft Hearted Scientists return this September with their sixth album The Slow Cyclone. Their approach to this new release is very interesting. Clocking in at 57 minutes, The Slow Cyclone is an ambitious song cycle of 24 tracks (full length songs, instrumentals, and tiny interludes) divided into four groups of six tracks. The Scientists intentionally recorded this disc as “mid fi” in three different home studios, rather than produce a clean and highly polished sound. So there are little real life touches peppered throughout like random coughs, count ins, and other interruptions that contribute to the charm of the music. The tiny interludes are really too short to notice (10 – 20 seconds). So the first track that grabbed my attention was the instrumental “Flying Horses” with its pulsating synths and beautiful surreal sense of a carousel. Some of the songs contain repeated chanting of one or two lines, while others contain pleasant harmonies and catchy melodies. “Drifting Away” is a song that does feel like you are drifting and for some obscure reason it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. “Hermit Crab” is a cute children’s song that could have been on Donovan’s 1971 album HMS Donovan. Another song of note is “Away” with its acoustic and electric guitars, washes of sound, and vocal harmonies that create a relaxing and floating mood. There are so many different little gems on this disc, it is difficult to call them all out in a review. One song that is entirely different from the rest is “Robots Remember.” Starting with a mechanical analog drum machine it morphs into a calypso – Kraftwerk song of all things! It is only a three minute song, but grows on you to the point where you feel compelled to sing along. And the disc closes with an otherworldly and melancholic song “Before I Was Born.” So like any good scientists, they continue to experiment and test their hypotheses to refine their art.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more