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Hess&Franzen: {Closedlockedsealed}

When Bristol and Brazil collide...

Transatlantic prog duo Hess&Franzen have a background in working on soundtracks for games and short movies, so little wonder they’re so comfortable with creating moods and textures without the need for words. They certainly know how to grab your attention from the off. Opener Quick Space Threat kicks off, Public Enemy-style, with a cacophony of wailing ambulances and barking air raid sirens, immediately conjuring an air of Orwellian discomfort and paranoia.

But rather than taking the expected route down nosebleed-heavy avenues, Hess&Franzen take a left turn down a lane paved with pure, old school prog gold. In this duo’s land, keyboard is king, and so the ghosts of ELP and even Jeff Wayne raise their heads to amp up the sci-fi.

It’s at once nostalgic and futuristic, the metal battle riffs of Gobi Desert Search For SS Cotopaxi married to squelching synths and portentous drums which suggest a childhood spent in the thrall of alien invasion B-movies.

It’s dextrous, pin-sharp stuff, and while lacking in human warmth or emotion, it’s a fascinating soundtrack to two men on opposite sides of the ocean indulging their deepest prog/sci-fi fantasies.