Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra - Vula album review

Fourth album in 10 years by the dazzling Berlin-based 18-piece Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra

Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra - Vula album artwork

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Daniel Glatzel, the leader and principal composer of this international ensemble, advises that the hour long Vula should be listened to straight through for it to make sense.

But by then the listener will also need to cool their head down, as the musical imagination and standard of playing on offer are staggering. The brief title track feels like a prelude or overture, an intriguing swirl of contrasting themes. The 14-minute In The Light Of Turmoil begins with brisk tuned percussion and guitar motifs and displays a typical trait of different instruments picking up the melody in succession as the track morphs through cinematic themes, with strings, flutes, synths and brass, sudden Zappaesque staccato unison lines, Stravinskian rhythmic stabs and drum-led grooves, with echoes of Jaga Jazzist. Just when a breather is needed, Lakta Mata Ha – gorgeous flutes, harps and piano – is just as intricate but more lyrical. Following the bracingly fractured and avant-garde qwetoipntv vjadfklvjieop, Interlude is soothing aural balm. The multifacteted complexity of Vula feels like a reversal of the idea of slapping an orchestra onto prog rock tunes – this is an orchestra actually playing its own unique style of progressive music.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.