Believe me, I’d love to hate this. When I was a lad we HATED hippies and all we thought they stood for. Ah, the wisdom of youth. Still, it helped me focus on my beloved punk records and, fortunately, it wouldn’t occur to me for a few years that Crass were as big a bunch of hippies as there ever was. Of course I’d decided that the Krautrock I loved wasn’t hippy music and I had conflated prog with hippy music.
All which biographical waffle is by way of saying that this is hugely prog rock, not hippy-dippy and that one of the blessings of age is an acquired ability to appreciate different sorts of music. This is characterised by sweeping synths, rising, trance-like, melodies and regular bouts of electric guitar strangling. Eons spent on Thai beaches, being force-fed Enigma albums (yup, I, II and the imaginatively named III) led to an instant recognition of tunes with sampled vocal bits that add that extra layer of pretension.
This is great chill out music and it is a shock when a perfeckly normal chap appears to acknowledge applause and introduce the next track. It grates a little and you rarely found bands like Floyd or Spiritualised (as a more recent example) chatting or even admitting an audience was there. Perhaps some editing chaps. Or maybe consumers might head for one of the studio releases. Of course, this is counteracted by the VFM factor (value for money) – it’s a double CD running over two and a half hours. That’s an evening of serious sofa time, down-timing from feeding the corporate machine. The advance on the prog I was coming across when young and lively (Rick Wakeman’s Court Of King Arthur anyone…..?) is, of course, the amazing warm sounds you can coax from a synth these days and the real piano sounds. The electric guitar strangling is the same as ever and has a touch of the Gilmours about it in places. Elsewhere things float or gently beat and the first CD is quite an uplifting event. The second seems to drift by for me but it may just be that 2 and a half hours is too much for me.
Young me stands shaking his head as I admit to growing to enjoy this shifting drifting sandstorm of electronic colour.