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Servants Of Science - The Swan Song CD (album) cover

THE SWAN SONG

Servants Of Science

 

Crossover Prog

3.85 | 7 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars A new band of prog veterans from Brighton, UK, presenting us with a concept album that sounds a lot like THE FLAMING LIPS with lots of reminders from bands like PINK FLOYD, THE CHURCH, Hawkwind, Eloy, The Enid, Nektar, and Babylon. The album tries to present the story of a man in space who witnesses the "end of the world."

1. "Another Day" (5:35) cymbal crashes and thick, multiple layers of Mellotron open this one. Things quiet down at 1:20 for the entrance of STEVE KILBEY/ROBERT SMITH-like voice to start singing over some spacey keys and delicate guitar picking/strumming. Each verse is bridged by return to full 'tron. Nice vintage sound--reminding me of Ft. Lauderdale band BABYLON's 1979 debut album. Simple yet impressive. (9/10)

2. "Kaleidoscope" (3:43) electric piano, spacey synth incidentals, and gentle electric guitar strums back the STEVE KILBEY/ROBERT SMITH-like singer for the first verse until Mellotron and synths and heavily-effected drums join in for the chorus. The second chorus flows into an instrumental section that incorporates recordings of human communications from space with eerie incidentals. Nice. (8.5/10)

3. "Tedium Infinitum" (4:08) setting up as a kind of FLAMING LIPS/80s pop song ("Hold Me Now" by the Thompson Twins) with an appropriate female lead vocal from Helena DeLuca. She sounds a lot like singer Malkah Spigel from the 1980s Belgium-based Israeli band MINIMAL COMPACT. Not enough surprises in the song development for my tastes. (7.5/10)

4. "Peripheral" (8:37) opens with slow chord bounces from electric piano and synth supporting a DANIEL ASH (Love and Rockets, Bauhaus)-like vocal. Overall it's a very FLAMING LIPS/ROGER WATERS-sounding song. The occasional appearance by a Robert-Fripp-like guitar note excites and draws attention but never really goes anywhere after its initial slide up the fretboard. There is a shift at 5:20 in which the band moves into an uptempo straight-time rock beat while multiple guitars, tuned percussion, and synths jam along until the "How will you fall from here" chorus returns around 6:40. Solid crossover prog song. The final minute has the music fall away as distorted electric guitar plays a few rounds of a single chord with arpeggios. (8/10)

5. "Servants of Science" (5:48) here--including the voice! Opens with chimes before "cello" synth sound enters and settles into the background while guitar notes are picked and eerie saw-like synth move into foreground. A multi- voiced Polyphonic Spree-like choral voices enter at the 1:15 mark, surprising me. Nice. At 1:50 the song bursts into a section that is pure ROGER WATERS/PINK FLOYD. The vocal is very forceful (and angry?) The music returns to calm between first and second Waters-like vocal verses. Screaming lead electric guitar and synth-generated orchestral strings enter to support an instrumental section. By 5:20, the anger and force is spent and guitar arpeggi and lead notes turn soft, somber, and sad. Cool song! Clever/creative. (9/10)

6. "Epilogue_Prologue" (3:57) kind of continues the spacious, soft, somber, thought-provoking section from the previous song as recorded voice from 1950s American radio/television broadcast RE birth of the Atomic Age plays. Neil's KILBEY-like voice takes a turn singing before exiting for cool human-voice-aided spacey section finished off with another old voice recording and "explosion"-like sound before radiowave sounds fill the sonicscape. Great song--truly in the same vein as THE FLAMING LIPS' Yoshimi. (9/10)

7. "Burning in the Cold" (10:00) opening with softly strummed electric guitar chords over which DOROCCAS-like voice eventually joins in during the beginning of the second minute. At 1:50 mark synth flute leads just before drums, bass, and rest of band join in. Band pauses mid-fourth minute for an interlude of organ, synth French horn, voice samples and other random industrial and post-apocalyptic incidental sounds. At 5:15 we're back to the opening sounds and pace. At 5:50 a cymbal crash leads into a Mellotron-drenched section with full rock band support over which Neil sings with the emotion of a pissed off Roger Waters. This is then followed by a solid rock guitar solo before we break into a very gentle, airy choral sing of "to the sun, come along" which then repeats to the final minute--which plays out like the droning hum of a large turbine engine. Perfect PINK FLOYD send off. (8.5/10)

So the question is: Is this album more similar to THE FLAMING LIPS, PINK FLOYD, or THE CHURCH? I have no vested opinion in any of the cited sound-alikes. I do, however, truly enjoy and appreciate the choice of album theme and the way it is presented. High marks for this. I will say that I think the sound engineering and production could have been of a higher quality--though I did enjoy the retro-sounds that this album harkens back to, my standards remain snobbishly high--especially with the technologies so readily available in this the 21st Century.

Four stars; a solid contribution to prog world and a welcome addition to the space/psychedelic subgenre.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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