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Beggars Opera - Lose A Life CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera


Symphonic Prog

3.70 | 29 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Electric Light Opera

"Lose a life" was the third of three albums released in 2010 by the current Beggar's Opera line up; the family trio of Gardiner, Gardiner and Scott remaining firmly in situ. This though is something of a different beast to the albums which precede it. Built around a concept, the album (subtitled "A Nano Opera based on a true story") is intended to "raise the profile of the world problem of Electrical Sensitivity" (ES), a condition from which Ricky Gardiner of the band suffers. The condition is essentially a vulnerability to particular sources of electricity, leading to a range of symptoms such as fatigue and headaches. ES is not a recognised medical condition, but that is not to say that those who suffer from it do not believe they have a genuine condition.

The lyrics to tracks here were all written by band member Virginia Aurora Scott, Ricky's wife. They are noticeably longer than the tracks on the previous releases by this line up of the band, the opening "Electrofire Invasion" running to over 11 minutes. It is also fair to say that these tracks have much more pertinence in terms of prog, with long guitar and keyboard phases being the order of the day. "Electrofire Invasion" is very much in the Pink Floyd mould, with carefully considered lead guitar riffs creating incisive but majestic soundscapes. Scott's lyrics are brief and focused as she attempts to describe the symptoms which the sufferer faces.

"Electro Half Light" inverts the arrangement of "Electrofire invasion" Scott's vocals coming up front then giving way to one of Gardiner's finest lead guitar solos. "Masts on my Roof" is the second of the 11+ minute tracks. The song is vocally intensive, giving greater details of the symptoms and the challenges faced by the sufferers. The lyrics also touch on the medical world's cynicism towards the existence of the condition. "Cosmic Tango" describes a panic attack endured by someone who feels trapped by an environment awash with potential threats (such as strip lights, mobile phone masts, etc.). It is very much a continuation of "Masts on my roof", both musically and lyrically.

"Dr Carlo" is named after someone who has carried out extensive research into ES, and has offered explanations of the causes. Scott's words on behalf of her husband, such as "Suddenly I see what is happening to me" reflect Ricky's moment of realisation. The album closes with the instrumental "Tango for the End of Time", a keyboards and guitar piece which picks the pace up a bit, while retaining the overall mood of the album.

As indicated up front, this album has little in common with the others by the Beggar's Opera of the 2000's. Indeed, "Lose a life" actually harks back more to the band's incarnation of the early 70's. While there was a certain element of fun there though, this is a thoroughly serious affair. The stated intention of drawing attention to the condition is addressed successfully, if slightly clumsily through the unambiguous lyrics, which tend to labour the point as they describe the challenges faced by those who believe they suffer from ES. Musically though, this is the most exciting of the albums the band have put out in recent years, the tracks being permitted to develop fully through well conceived instrumental arrangements. While overall the album is a bit too verbose, "Lose a life" is a fine addition to the Beggar's Opera discography.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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