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TRACK LIST: 1. Twelve Hundred Miles 3:11 2. Needless and Furtive Reminders 2:28 3. Raven 8:02 4. Symphony of Atoms 5:24 5. Play to Win 3:57 6. Taliban 6:17 7. Assam 6:03 8. Caverns of Night 7:32 9. Parachute Shop 3:48 10. Journey’s End 13:38 11. Dracula’s Bride 11:25 LINEUP: Paul Foley – vocals; all instruments
Prolusion. Australian composer and musician Paul FOLEY is probably best known as a member of the Australian psychedelic progressive rock band Brainstorm, a unit that has been ongoing since the late ‘80s. "Shape in Spacetime" is the first official solo production by Foley, and was released through Brainstorm's label imprint BS in 2014.
Analysis. As Foley is a member of a band whose name was borrowed from the classic Hawkwind track of the same name, one might expect this CD to contain a fair bit of material whose sounds can be traced back to that legendary band of space cadets, which isn't really the case here, surprisingly enough, at least not in a direct and overt manner. Foley's solo album mainly stays within and sticks to tendencies of a generally psychedelic nature, most of the time harvesting a rather different vein than Dave Brock and his various creative partners’ one. More than anything else this is a CD that looks back to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, exploring more of a folk-oriented kind of psychedelic rock. Plucked and wandering acoustic guitar details are a central presence throughout, with occasional use of guitar riffs and guitar solo details. Wandering bass-lines and steady, wandering drum patterns are applied when needed, while a cold subtly cosmic-tinged keyboard presence rather frequently hovers on top. Ongoing flute solo runs are also a central feature, while Foley's rather relaxed vocal does add something of a Hawkwind vibe to this as an album experience. The concluding epic Dracula's Bride also incorporates some firmer instrument elements that can be traced back to Hawkwind, and then the “Astounding Sounds – Amazing Music” album by that band in particular. I wasn't all that impressed with this material. As mood creations and a time capsule music experience it does the job rather well, but, at least for me, this CD is by and large lacking those finer details that make the songs more interesting experiences than that. The longer songs in particular come across as just a bit too repetitive for comfort at times. But there are two exceptions here that, for me, are compositions that deserve a broader audience. Both of them are exceptions on all levels, with more of a basis in progressive electronic music than the older psychedelic and folk rock founded material that dominates elsewhere, yet also with some instrumental details and similarities that ties them in quite nicely with the rest of the album. The more delicate Assam is the track that has the strongest connections to the rest of this production in that context, but the most impressive of the lot by far is the more intense and dark toned piece Taliban. A song whose lyrics probably should be disregarded a bit, as they have a bit too much of a Donald Trump type of edge to them in their scathing descriptions of the fanatics you'll find in such organizations, but if you manage to get past that element that may be stark satire or prejudice (we are the Taliban... not the teletubbies), depending on point of view, the song as such is a striking and compelling creation liberally flavored with exotic and compelling soundbytes.
Conclusion. The greater majority of the material on Foley's solo album "Shape in Spacetime" is of the kind that should appeal strongly to those with a solid taste for folk-oriented psychedelic rock of the kind that was explored in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Nothing exceptional, as far as I'm concerned, but well made pieces with a certain lo-fi charm should fit right in with those who treasure material of this particular nature. The two instances where Foley takes on a more progressive electronic style are the most interesting cuts on this CD though, and these are also generally of a higher quality on just about all levels, as I experience this production, compositions that merit a check by those who tend to be fascinated by such excursions.
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