After the intensity of Amplifier’s previous album The Octopus, this may not be what you’re expecting. It plays, initially, like a chillout/comedown record, but gradually reveals itself as a work of great subtlety, the new four-piece line-up boldly expanding its horizons.
The anticipated Amp-epics come early, like opening tracks Matmos (Sel Balamir’s guitar building slowly from a whisper to a roar), The Wheel (bass-heavy hypnotherapy with gonzoid moments) and the album’s masterpiece, the 12-minute Extra Vehicular – über-drummer Matt Brobin’s sticks hitting every star in sight while Sel imagines the awe and terror of leaving a space capsule to view the wonders of the cosmos.
But in the second half of the album, there are some unexpected twists. Despite a crescendo that’s like getting sideswiped by a truck while picking daisies, Where The River Goes is, er, cute. Alongside a Roger Waters-like air of menace, Paris In The Spring sounds a bit Beach Boys in parts. Between Today And Yesterday is acoustic and evokes Crosby Stills & Nash. And the title track is effectively an instrumental that’s almost psychedelic.
Finally, Mary Rose… growing from Ummagumma-era Floyd stylings to become a jolly little tale of a doomed flagship, it’s the album in a nutshell: fabulous, fun and irresistible. From here, Amplifier could go anywhere.