Prog Round-up: May 2015

Geoff Barton on new releases from Cranium Pie, The Chemistry Set, Eyesberg, Thirteen and Liquid Shades

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Cranium Pie: Mechanisms Part Two

When it came out in 2012, we hailed Cranium Pie’s Mechanisms Part One as ‘the most bonkers prog album of the year’. No wonder, given that it’s the story of a battle between civilizations of robots and crayfish. Part Two is unsurprisingly a continuation of the crustacean conceit.

This time lobster-like beings stumble across tapes recorded by ‘the last band on earth’ that have laid hidden for 908 years. There are no songs in the conventional sense, just a set of sprawling, serpentine entities that are best listened to in a single session. This is prog at its most bamboozling, a free-form freakout of krautrock, Zappa and Arthur Brown, augmented by industrial-sounding passages that recall the soundtrack to futuristic 60s kids’ TV series Space Patrol.

Bizarrely, you cannot fail to become immersed in the concept. Indeed, you form a strange affinity with the plucky crayfish, whose ‘voices’ are reminiscent of The Clangers crossed with Sweep (from Sooty & Sweep). You’ll never want to buy a jar of Marie Rose sauce again. (810)/o:p

The Chemistry Set: Elapsed Memories Veterans of the late 1980s neo-psychedelic boom, The Chemistry Set made a surprise return seven years ago. This EP is an acid-pop feast: the lighweight but deceptively sinsister title track recalls Arthur Lee’s Love, while A Cure For The Inflicted Afflicted is a rougher, tougher proposition. A haunting cover of Jimi’s Love Or Confusion rounds things off splendidly. (810) Eyesberg: Blue The origins of Anglo-German band Eyesberg date back to the 70s, as do all the songs here. For some reason they’ve only just got around to recording them. They claim the material has been ‘totally revised’ but this is still a dated mix of Fish, Styx and IQ. A plus-point is the vocals; every bit as English as the singer’s name (Malcolm Shuttleworth) suggests. (510) Thirteen: A Shot In The Dark The Anette Olzon-fronted version of Nightwish wasn’t exactly their finest hour; even so, Thirteen singer Audrey Lahaije cites them as an influence, along with Alanis Morrisette and The Cranberries. As expected, A Shot In The Dark is full of anaemic symphonic metal, falling well short of the pumped-up grandiosity this genre of music requires. (510) Liquid Shades: Liquid Shades

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.