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LONELY ROBOT

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Lonely Robot biography
John Christian Mitchell - Born 21 June 1973 in Shannon, Clare, Ireland

LONELY ROBOT is a British Crossover Prog solo project from journeyman guitarist John MITCHELL. Mihchell joined the progressive scene as the guitar player for supergroup ARENA in 1997. He had a big set of shoes to fill as he replaced outgoing Keith MORE (ASIA) but has done more than adequately remaining a mainstay with the band throughout their heyday, holding his own while trading solos off with prog legend Clive NOLAN (PENDRAGON). While maintaining his commitment to ARENA, MITCHELL continued to build his prog resume with THE URBANE, John WETTON (ASIA, KING CRIMSON), KINO, FROST*, IT BITES and most recently GALDALF'S FIST. In addition to his impressive guitar work, MITCHELL was also the lead singer for KINO and IT BITES.

In 2014, MITCHELL decided it was time to do his own project. On the Inside Out record label's announcement, MITCHELL stated:

''I'd long thought about doing an album where I could have total control from start to finish with the music, lyrics, production, and choosing who I wanted to contribute - expanding from the idea of just a solo album. Musically, this album is very proggy, but more about atmosphere than technical expertise, inspired by my love of science fiction and interest in the evolution of the human race.''

His first album under the LONELY ROBOT moniker, ''Please Come Home'' was released in February 2015 and features a series of prog notables including standing drummer Craig BLUNDELL (Steven WILSON touring band, FROST*). The album also features guest appearances by Nick BEGGS (KAJAGOOGOO, Steven WILSON), Nik KERSHAW, Steve HOGARTH (MARILLION), Heather FINDLAY (MOSTLY AUTUMN) and Jem GODFREY (FROST*). MITCHELL's earthy voice is reminiscent of his time singing for IT BITES while the music is more akin to his work with FROST* and ARENA. Fans of MITCHELL's other bands as well as fans of atmospheric somewhat poppy prog may enjoy LONELY ROBOT.

::Roland113::

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Please Come HomePlease Come Home
Sony 2019
$8.50
$12.45 (used)
Lonely Robot - Under StarsLonely Robot - Under Stars
Inside Out Germany 2019
$11.81
$16.49 (used)
The Big DreamThe Big Dream
IMPORTS 2017
$10.00
$15.41 (used)

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LONELY ROBOT discography


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LONELY ROBOT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.59 | 63 ratings
Please Come Home
2015
3.79 | 66 ratings
The Big Dream
2017
3.37 | 33 ratings
Under Stars
2019

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LONELY ROBOT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Under Stars by LONELY ROBOT album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.37 | 33 ratings

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Under Stars
Lonely Robot Crossover Prog

Review by DominicS

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.

 Under Stars by LONELY ROBOT album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.37 | 33 ratings

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Under Stars
Lonely Robot Crossover Prog

Review by The Duke of Prunes

3 stars Lonely Robot is the project of John Mitchell, well known in the prog circles, specifically in the neo-prog subjenre, as a guitarist/vocalist in It bites in their last 2 albums, Frost*, Kino, Arena and some other collaborations. This is his third solo effort and it doesn't seem like he has decided to move in an unpredictable direction. For those, unaware of his previous works, his albums are song-based, with average lenght 5 minutes, there are no long "epics", nor instrumental self-indulgence. He relies on creating the right atmosphere, with the intruments ading different emotional layers, instead of over-the-top instrumental virtuosity, quintessential for most prog. Thus said, it's easily digestible, enjoyable and even quite relaxing.

The opening "Terminal Earth" is just introductory soundscape with lush keyboards, feeling space-y, which is to be expected since John himself has stated his obsession about space related things numerous times. He even won a public speaking competition, regarding knowledge about Mars! Next, we have "Ancient Ascendant", starting off with heavy riff, accompained by Liam Holmes's ingrained beneath keyboards, adding tension. This is probably the heaviest song on the album. Mitchell delivers his almost-spoken quite vocals, progressively building suspense. His lyrics, yet again express his fascination of the human race evolution. There really are lines and themes that make us question our nature as human beings. The chorus features the riff from the beginning with rather nostalgic vocals. After a brief keyboard solo, we get to a reprise and abrupt ending.

"Icarus" feels way less dark and gloomy. It begins with synthwave-ish keyboards above somewhat electronic, oscillating beat. Pretty simple instrumental background leaving space for John's catchy, warm vocals. The chorus is uplifting with added guitar. There is a well-articulated guitar and keyboard unison bridge. This song will probably appeal to any pop fan.

"Under Stars" shows his deep, emotional voice. The musical accompanion is again realy light, soothing, not having any correlation with prog. In fact, Mitchell himself said he doesn't think his work is strictly "neo-prog". It is "catchy", drawing as much influence from pop as prog. The highlight here without a doubt is his heavenly solo, thankfully lasting for more than a minute.

The next song, "Authorship of Our Lives" is probably my favourite one from this album. It starts off with keyboard introduction, again pertaining more to electronic/pop music, rather than prog. Here, we have groovy rhythm beneath John's middle-pithed existential vocals. I say existential mainly for the lyrics here and the manner he is delivering his parts. We get to a more strenuous part, reminiscent of "Ancient Ascendant". The chorus instills that feeling of "rethinking" our lives. The track ends after a short, more punchy solo. This song single-handedly expresses nearly all nuances of the whole album.

"The signal" is just ambient soundscape with deep, spoken, robotic vocals. It feels pretty sad. "The Only Time I Don't Belong Is Now" starts with groovy drums and more pure rock guitar. The chorus is straight up pumped up alternative rock. "When Gravity Fails" is really dramatic with some compressed vocals. "How Bright Is The Sun?" is also one of the better songs here. It follows the formula of "Authorship of Our Lives" - soft vocals, catchy chorus with a good rhythm section, brief soaring solo. "Inside This Machine" is the only instrumental here, and it has almost an Ayreon feel to it. Quite relieving from the repetitive sound. "An Ending" has airy, subtle melody and sad, poignant vocals, as John excels in them.

"Under Stars" is nothing that mindblowing. Good musicianship, stellar production, but it follows a successful formula, and of course, that is not bad by all means. It might appear dull to some prog fans, and on the contrary - enjoyable for non-prog listeners. So, in that sense, John Mitchell did a great job by mixing prog with catchy pop-y melodies.

 The Big Dream by LONELY ROBOT album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.79 | 66 ratings

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The Big Dream
Lonely Robot Crossover Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars British multi-instrumentalist John Mitchell takes time out once again from Frost*, the reworked version of It Bites and Neo- Proggers Arena to deliver his second work under the solo project name Lonely Robot, after its debut a few years back. The first album `Please Come Home' was a reliable and easy-to-enjoy (if - whisper it - an occasionally slightly bland) atmospheric rock disc, but Mr Mitchell steps up in a big way here with 2017's `The Big Dream' to deliver a far more memorable follow-up that improves on the groundwork laid on that initial effort in every way. Tighter arrangements, some heavier touches for added drama and, most important of all, punchier vocal rock/pop pieces that retain lyrical intelligence whilst still containing ear-worm melodies that lodge themselves in the brain are all present, and they're carried by Mr Mitchell's always distinctively raspy voice that reminds why he's one of the most quietly charismatic singers in modern prog.

Lonely Robot is hardly some super prog-rock blowout, but instead of lengthy and histrionic showboating soloing, ambitious rock with a keen focus on intelligent words and smart song-writing is the order of the day here, with Mitchell choosing carefully when to unleash with sparingly used epic guitar journeys to raise the pulse and emotional heft of the tunes. Listeners who liked the modern discs of artists such as Sound of Contact and David Kerzner will find quite a similar sound here, and those with longer memories might even find it often calls to mind Mitchell's own one-off but fondly remembered Kino album from 2005 that saw him collaborating with former Porcupine Tree drummer Chris Maitland and Marillion's Pete Trewavas. `The Big Dream' is not a concept work as such, but one that carries over themes and ideas present on the first 2015 disc, and many of the songs here hold a reflective lyric that makes them easily relatable outside of the branching yet cryptic story.

After `Prologue - Deep Sleep's mysterious twinkling ambiance and melancholic spoken word opening, `Awakenings' kicks off the album proper with a gutsy rock tune of muscular grinding guitars and spectral synths in-between a rousing chorus that hides surreal dream-like words. John is joined by female backing singer Bonita McKinney (the duo sound great whenever they share vocals together throughout the disc) for `Sigma', another introspective rock tune with a killer chorus wedged between jangling guitars and slinking electronics, and listen out for the deceptively subtle reggae touches hidden here and there! The pair slow things down for the reflective power ballad `In Floral Green' with a dreamy chorus kissed by the gods of pop that trails off with a sweet falsetto vocal, and John lets rip briefly with a fiery heartfelt electric guitar solo that burns to the heavens.

`Everglow' pounds with louder guitar and synth bombast again for a tune that wouldn't have sounded out of place on those above mentioned Sound of Contact/David Kerzner releases with its wordy but catchy chorus. Then we hit one of the album highlights, `False Light', that will have listeners wondering if John snuck in former Lonely Robot guest and Steven Wilson Band cohort Nick Beggs due to the aggressive and relentlessly buoyant bass that leaps around one-time Pendragon (and also Steven Wilson Band) Craig Blundell's stormy busy drumming, and John's sparkling keyboards throughout are another standout feature.

`Symbolic' is a breathless and frantic up-tempo rocker where parts of the ringing guitars remind of proudly proggy British indie-poppers Mansun, and the optimistic `The Divine Art Of Being' could have easily fit on the early romantic Pendragon albums or the more streamlined `Nomzamo/Are You Sitting Comfortably?' era of I.Q. The eight-minute `The Big Dream' delivers the sole big purely instrumental moment of the disc, plodding with brooding heavy guitars with epic Pink Floyd-like soloing, grumbling staccato bass rumbles, ghostly Mellotron veils, gothic synth grandiosity and eclectic Steve Hackett-esque nightmare/dream-like interludes. `Hello World, Goodbye' is perhaps the closest the album comes to a classy Peter Gabriel- like duet ballad with Bonita returning but still finds time for some crisp guitar soloing from John, and `Epilogue - Sea Beams' is a final ambient reprise with pristine piano and light folky themes to close on.

(Not to be entirely ignored, the CD version comes with three bonus tracks. First up are charming acoustic versions of both `In Floral Green' and `The Divine Art Of Being', and while they don't alter the proper album versions too drastically, they instantly reveal what first-rate tunes they are at their core. Then there's a new spin on `Why Do We Stay' from the first Lonely Robot album sung by ex-Touchstone singer, the delightful Kim Seviour, who contributed to `Please Come Home' back in '15, and this new version reminds that she's a charming singer with a maturity well beyond her young years, and it moves the piece to something not far removed from a band like Mostly Autumn.)

Some will find that `The Big Dream' doesn't quite tick enough more obvious `prog' boxes often enough, but listeners who appreciate well-crafted, excitingly performed and interesting rock albums that crossover into prog will discover plenty to like here, and it's so easy to replay often and enjoy even on a surface level. The album seems to be slipping under the radar a little bit this year when it and John Mitchell in general deserve much more attention, but on the strength of `The Big Dream', looks like this Lonely Robot's going to be picking up plenty of extra friends in the near future!

Four stars.

 Please Come Home by LONELY ROBOT album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.59 | 63 ratings

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Please Come Home
Lonely Robot Crossover Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Lonely Robot is the project name for a solo work by British musician John Mitchell, well known in prog circles for his association with a wide range of progressive acts such as Arena, It Bites, Kino and Frost*. An exceptional guitarist as well as having one of the most charismatic voices in modern prog, Mitchell also frequently displays a strong ear for keen melodies, and that quality shines through much of `Please Come Home'. Ambitious rock is the order of the day here over full-blown progressive epics, but there's plenty of unpredictable diversions to keep things interesting. As well as the album featuring Kajagoogoo/Steven Wilson Band musician Nick Beggs on bass, Marillion's Steve Hogarth, ex-Mostly Autumn's Heather Findlay, the lovely Kim Seviour of Touchstone and other modern prog notables all make standout contributions as well.

Despite retaining Mitchell's catchy choruses, winning harmonies and overall usual accessible arrangements, `Please Come Home' instantly stands apart from his work with It Bites by incorporating plenty of aggressive blasts of heavy electric guitar, often making it perhaps his hardest hitting work to date. With recurring science fiction themes peppering the narrative, the album throws up gutsy sleek rockers like `God vs Man', as well as atmospheric pop with `The Boy in the Radio', `Oubliette' and `Construct/Obstruct'. The melancholic and brooding `Are We Copies?' almost channels Polish prog-metal kings Riverside, and the stark piano, moody guitar soloing and pulsing bass of `A Godless Sea' instantly reminds of Arena. There's even welcome shorter instrumentals with the bombastic Ayreon-like symphonic `Airlock' and a sweet fragile lullaby `The Red Balloon' to close on.

There's a few exceptional standout moments on the disc as well. Steve Hogarth offers delicate piano on `Why Do We Stay', a classy ballad which could have come straight off the last few Anathema albums, John's warm raspy tones complimented by Heather Findlay's silken voice. The sombre yet uplifting ballad `Humans Being' with its soaring chorus could have easily fit on Mitchell's Kino album from 2005. But the real highlight is the eight minute `Lonely Robot'. The longer running time means the track moves through several different passages, incorporating everything from repeated chiming guitar Coldplay-like jangling radio friendly verses , a crunchy pop-perfection chorus, drifting ambient piano interludes, dreamy electric guitar ruminations and even latter-day Porcupine Tree heavy outbursts.

Fans of the diverse range of sounds found on the later Anathema and Porcupine Tree albums, bands like the Pineapple Thief, Sound of Contact, and Mitchell's own version of the band It Bites should find much to appeal to them here, as the Lonely Robot project shares a similar focus on strong accessible melodies front and center over prog-rock showboating. The last two It Bites albums `The Tall Ships' and `Map of the Past' are probably just that little bit stronger and will likely be returned to more often, but `Please Come Home' is still an ideal purchase for those who fondly remember that above mentioned Kino album, lovers of melodic prog in general, and any fans of the talented Mr Mitchell.

Three and a half stars.

Thanks to evolver for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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