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Lonely Robot - Under Stars CD (album) cover


Lonely Robot


Crossover Prog

3.43 | 67 ratings

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3 stars This is the conclusive album to John Mitchell's three-part solo project that opts for atmosphere over excessive complexity. As with the previous two Lonely Robot albums, Mitchell uses the character of the Lonely Robot as a symbol of the current human condition; he explores how our future generations have become scarily dependant on technology, forgetting to notice and care about the natural beauty that surrounds us. After listening to all three of his albums, I've found this one to be the strongest due to the fact that there are a greater variety of sounds in this album despite it having a more relaxing vibe compared to his previous two albums. It's not my usual choice of prog but I was more than happy to immerse myself in Mitchell's memorable and relaxing soundscape.

Mitchell relies on synth heavily on this album which is no surprise considering the theme of technology running throughout the entire Lonely Robot trilogy. However, synth is used more so on this album which makes it more ambient compared to his previous two albums. This is most evident on songs such as 'Icarus' and 'Authorship of Our Lives' in which the most lyrical melody lines are played on the synth. This gives a cool spacey sound to these songs as well as highlighting their catchiness. This is a feature of many of the songs on the album, they could be likened to a selection of catchy pop songs due to the typical verse-chorus structure and lyrical melody lines. However, these are better than just pop songs I feel; Mitchell doesn't conform to just one type of sound on the album. Heavier, more metal inspired songs such as 'Ancient Ascendant' and 'When Gravity Fails' greatly contrast the lighter and more pop infused songs. 'Ancient Ascendant', for example, focuses on a heavy riff that stays in 7/4 for most of the song - a real head banger. Similarly, 'When Gravity Fails' features changing time signatures, especially in the main starting riff that alternates between two time signatures. On other songs, Mitchell's intention is neither to be catchy nor heavy but simply to create a numbing ambience. 'Terminal Earth' and 'The Signal' successfully do this through lush keyboard sounds helped along by a heavy use of reverb and delay. At times it is so relaxing it becomes hypnotic yet Mitchell's fusion of Ayreon's metal influences and Coldplay's catchy pop influences certainly keeps the listener on their toes.

The high point of the album for me comes from the final two tracks. 'Inside This Machine' showcases Mitchell's expertise on the guitar through the most epic guitar solo that takes up the whole song. It really is such a cool three and half minutes, so much so that I always want the song to go on for longer. His mastery on the fretboard is evident throughout the album, with complex guitar solos featuring in most of the songs; his solos come closest to the virtuosity some prog fans may crave. We then arrive at the final concluding track of the whole trilogy simply named 'An Ending'. It juxtaposes the full and angry sound of 'Inside This Machine' as it strips everything back to just keyboards, piano and Mitchell's warm vocals. It is ever so gentle and full of emotion as the album ends with a desperate plea for the Lonely Robot to come home - inspiring lyrics for a generation that need to 'come home' to the real natural world. All in all, this album is an easy listen due to its fusion of pop with some prog elements. I admit I was sceptical after a first listen yet I have come to like it now that I know the message of John Mitchell's trilogy. It is certainly no masterpiece, but it is a good attempt at fusing many sounds together that effectively keep the listener entertained. Any prog fans that are sceptical of this album should definitely give it a chance because there are some really promising moments.

DominicS | 3/5 |


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