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Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come - Galactic Zoo Dossier  CD (album) cover

GALACTIC ZOO DOSSIER

Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.86 | 61 ratings

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5 stars Hell Fire into Orbit?

I was puzzled by the constant references to The Lord and sinners in the rather meandering intro, and found out that Brown was/is a devout Christian. This would account for some of the themes of his earlier work, as well as for the underlying imagery present in this otherwise outer-space themed album.

Internal Messenger, then, is the first song proper - and a great rocker it is, with powerful riffs and odd wacka-wacka/wibbly noises in the texture, topped with Brown's awesome vocals. When the Hammond kicks in, it's bliss - if a bit muddy; the bass tone is nothing to get excited about - but those Hammond slides are just delicious. After the initial verse/chorus exposition, things get a lot more interesting, with a tritone-drive quasi metal section segueing into a quiet and sinister section that grows back towards the chorus, and a kind of coda, followed by a kind of anti-guitar solo, which nicely avoids predictable pentatonics to begin with (but could do with a tune-up) and gathers pace for a burn-out which never happens. Instead, it's all stripped back, and the music segues neatly into Space Plucks.

Space Plucks is a sensuous groove-based piece with effected vocals, and enough shifts in texture to retain compelling interest - kinda like a groovy Zappa in places, and not at all what you might expect. The remix that follows is actually a new idea that grows out of the existing texture, with distinctly Floydian touches.

Galactic Zoo is almost atonal in feel, giving way to startlingly avante-garde experimentation in texture, melody and rhythm. A mighty scream from Brown drops the listener into a melting pot of complex yet familiar textures, as distinctly atonal motifs are layered and swapped around between the instrumentalists, and just when you think a groove is going to get started, it all gets broken down again.

Metal Monster really gets the groove in a powerful way - this reminds me of a lot of Prog bands I've heard that sounded Prog for Prog's sake - but in this case, it's definitely not! This is a very experimental approach to riffs that hints at later King Crimson, with odd breaks and uncomfortable tape effects. It's not metal, as the title suggests, but it's close, being very heavy and intense.

Maintaining a superb dramatic curve to the album, the music takes a somewhat gentler edge for Simple Man, with Kosmiche/Floyd flavours until Brown takes over the vocal platform in his inimitable style. Half way through, the tempo and textures sharpen and pick up for a moment, and the piece closes out with the gentle groove around which a synth crudely screeches and bleeps.

Suddenly we are dropped into the harsh groove of Night of the Pigs, with sharp, dischordant angles being the order of the day in the guitars, and keyboards notable by their absence.

All too quickly, we're moved on, and the keyboards take over, with a soft diapason sound producing soft music that wouldn't be out of place whilst queueing for communion. Brown's impassioned vocals take the spotlight, and a majestically toned bass rings sonorous and true. Some gospel-style piano joins this, and Brown does a passable imitation of Ian Gillan - this man's vocal chords are seriously impressive. Like Child in Time, this piece builds as it progresses, tingles the spine, and rivets the listener to the spot. Occasionally Brown's Mad Preacher vocals are a little overwhelming - but there's a brilliant change to a jazz-styled groove, and the music itself makes up for any flaws in execution, noodly pentatonic guitar solo apart. Never mind - just you listen to the music in Sunrise - absolutely superb stuff!

Not so sure about Trouble - this little song seems to be mired in trouble from the start, and never really convincingly takes off. Even the lyrics; I would like to write a song and tell the world what's wrong with it today.

Brains is an odd Welsh hymn-like number that leads on to a continuation of Galactic Zoo inna jazz mood. Nice - although really a jazz-styled groove. 30 seconds of this, and it's all torn apart, though, into something a lot more interesting that smashes itself against musical boundaries - literally - never mind gentle giant experimentation or even dull, unadventurous heavy metal, this is violent stuff. It's quite amazing just how much ground is covered within 3 minutes - some bands I could mention would have difficulty in craming this much into 20.

Creep just gets better and better - clearly founded on Brown's Christian beliefs. It forces you cold- bloodedly to turn the volume right up in order to hear the words, and cruelly batters you with sounds from the darker dimensions - things like wasps crossed with the offspring of an octopus and a bicycle swarm across the musical landscape and batter themselves against the inside of your skull, then get chopped up in a manner that would have delighted Stockhausen, as the maelstrom unfolds and harmony is once more restored - what am I talking about? You NEED to hear this piece, progger.

Next we get a 7-minuter! Can it get any more intense?

A plethora of instrumental ideas, sadly topped with mainly pentatonic guitar, wind themselves into the disturbed and distorted opening groove of Creation + Gypsy Escape. Fortunately, the organ and piano are the main driving forces here, and the guitar, when it sticks to rhythm is simply an essential part of the texture. This piece is pure essence of Progressive Rock, not only sounding like it, but developing ideas and coming across like the musicians are making it up as they go along - betraying the close attention to detail in the composition by the tightness of the playing, especially in the giveaway synchronised passages. - and a real treat. The ending is some of the heaviest heavy prog I've ever heard, akin to Atomic Rooster at their best... personally, I'd say better.

After Noise, the album is wrapped up with a 6-minuter that's no slouch in terms of ideas - if rather 1960s inspired and, as a consequence, old-sounding for the first minute and a half or so before the scream! Ultimately, the psychedelic rock/Deep Purple sounds that pervade this piece, make it a bit of a weak exit to what is otherwise an astonishing, challenging and enjoyable album that's very nearly a masterpiece of Prog - noting that Internal Messenger is recalled in this piece, giving an overaching formal feel to the album.

This really is one for the Prog and Metal fans alike - while the overall flavours brought out by the instrumentation and production are of an early 1970s Heavy band that's met an O/D'd Psychedelic band head-on, there are many compositional touches that put this firmly into the realms of Prog.

I really couldn't think of a good reason to not give it 5 stars - even with it being only nearly a masterpiece. It's that close.

Certif1ed | 5/5 |

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