The Mothers Earth Experiment - The Mothers Earth Experiment album review

West Midlands six-piece The Mothers Earth Experiment invoke Island pink-label mischief

The Mothers Earth Experiment - The Mothers Earth Experiment album artwork

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If you can’t judge a band by their album covers – and the photo of six earthsmudged faces staring into a woodland pit doesn’t give you much to go on – then maybe you can judge them by who they’ve supported: in the case of The Mothers Earth Experiment, Gong, Syd Arthur and Arthur Brown.

Then you get a more brightly illuminated picture. The opener Talos starts off with the two guitarists playing a blues-tinged pattern to underline Mark Roberts’ soaring lead vocals in a three time, which stylistically makes one think they might have fitted on an Island sampler from 1970. But in the instrumental links, dropped or added beats typically shift the perspective of the piece. The group use this device a lot and on Quietus they play these time changes so deftly and subtly that the ‘one’ is left hanging, briefly leaving the listener in a state of disorientation. Some have cited them as having a jazz influence but apart from having a nifty keyboard player in James Baker, it doesn’t really swing as such. But their rhythmic mobility is integral to the structure of their songs and both underpins and complements the vocal melodies, which are forceful and memorable throughout.

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.