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Prog Round-up: October 2014

Album Review

Geoff Barton on new releases from Soft Hearted Scientists, Winter In Eden, Microcuts, Fruits De Mer and Sebas Honing

Soft Hearted Scientists: The Slow Cyclone

The sixth album from this Cardiff-based psychedelic collective, The Slow Cyclone crams 24 tracks into 57 minutes of playing time, “so as not to outstay its welcome”, as the band say. A prog band intent on fighting the flab. The Scientists are often compared to Syd Barrett but in truth their deep whimsy is grounded in the works of CS Lewis – as evinced by Hermit Crab’s touching tale (‘Hope the seagulls do not catch him, live another day’) and the jaunty, Byrds-like The Ups And The Downs, whose droll lyrics namecheck Alexander The Great and Basil Rathbone, the 1940s Sherlock Holmes star. Elsewhere, You There Standing In The Shadows will have you wondering what might’ve happened if Roy Harper had joined Chicory Tip, while Robots Remember is reminiscent of a love song written by Philip K Dick. The band have intentionally failed to erase real-life recording boo-boos (cat miaows, coughs, inconvenient phone interruptions) which help create, as they describe it, “interesting confusion”. (7/10)

Winter In Eden: Court Of Conscience

In a genre dominated by European acts, Winter In Eden are the best female-fronted symphonic rock band Britain has to offer right now. Singer Vicky Johnson eschews the hyperventilating melodrama of many of her peers, while tracks such as Critical Mass Part 1 – Burdened have clear prog links, falling between Evanescence and Touchstone. (7/10)

Microcuts: EP No.1

The music of Switzerland’s microcuts is characterised by melancholic singer Micro, bizarrely a former member of the Vienna Boys Choir. The standout on this four-song EP is Snakes & Apples, a mix of heavy riffage, false starts and churning keys, above which Micro mumbles and wails like a sinister cabaret singer in the grip of demonic possession. Strangely compelling. (6/10)

Various: 7 And 7 Is 

Taking its title from the song on Love’s Da Capo album, this is a boxset of seven vinyl singles. Each 45 features a band from the Fruits De Mer stable covering a brace of songs from the US psychedelic rock era. Highlights include King Penguin twanging The Byrds’ She Don’t Care About Time into another dimension, and The Gathering Grey making Moby Grape’s I Am Not Willing sound like an outtake from Screamadelica. (7/10)

Sebas Honing: Songs Of Seas & Oceans 

A concept album about H20 in all its guises, Sebas Honing might be an impressive multi-instrumentalist – think Mike Oldfield with metal inclinations – but he should not be allowed to sing under any circumstances. No surpirse that the best track here, The Sea Life, has vocals by his partner Petra (bonus Aquaphibian gurgling seemingly sampled from Stingray). (5/10)

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