Earthling Society – Beauty and the Beast (4ZERO Records) Keith Boyd 6.11.8
Ecstatic and feral they come. Candy colored and mud stained the Children of the Sun dance wet-legged in fields of morning dew. Having stomped and savored the ritual through the night they join hands and looking upward await the Sun’s resurrection. Pleasing tendrils of sound unfurl from the center of the stone circle and embrace the Children. They’ve come for this sweet oblivion. They’ve come to pay homage to the Piper at the Gates of Dawn. They’ve come to see Emily play. With light repelling darkness and space repelling matter, a new Earthling Society arises from the golden phoenix ash of the old. In a cosmic gear shift from most things dark and Proggy to a head long dive down the rabbit-hole of psychedelia, ES has come up with a rich and wonderful winner. They’ve dubbed it, “Beauty and the Beast” and so it is!
I’ll tell it to you plain people, I LOVE EARTHLING SOCIETY! From the their 1st mutant bleats on, “Albion” to the darkprog of “Plastic Jesus and the Third Eye Blind” and on to “Tears of Andromeda” with its’ epics spiked with touches of funk and glam it’s been a wild, wild ride. The care and craft they bring to bear on their music results in a sound that is omni-directional. It touches on the classic cannon of 60’s and 70’s rock while remaining fresh and essential contemporary listening. They are steeped in that classic British sense of whimsy and psychedelic (think Syd Barrett, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, The Wind in the Willows, Carnaby Street, Dr. Who, The Wicker Man) but still cast a modern and jaundiced eye on this horrid, grey-scale, free-market monstrosity we call a world. To make it plain, just the fact that there is a group such as Earthling Society is cause for celebration and hope. Their approach, scope, intent and results stand in stark contrast to all things superficial and disposable.
From the first twirly-whirly seconds of Kevy Canavan’s synth and organ intro to the track, “Drowned World” you know you’re in for an orange sunshiny dose of pure British Head Charge. The playing and players here are sure-footed and skilled without coming on all shiny and perfected. The human edges and fingerprints left on this music serve to remind you that that this is indeed music for and by Earthlings. I love the mix on this disc. Fred Laird’s voice emerges creature from the black lagoon style from the surrounding swell. His vocal melody, strength and skill have grown with each release and someone needs to give a big bunch of roses to whoever recorded Jon Blacow’s drums. Please etch your method for preserving his lovely and tasteful thwacks on an emerald tablet for all producers to commit to memory.
On the brilliant, lilting waltz, “Candlemass” Fred Laird and the boys have landed their spaceship on California’s Golden Shore. They stopped by Neil Young’s ranch to beam him up for a rollicking jam session with the cryogenically frozen 1969 lineup of Mighty Baby. This sun soaked tune is a special highlight from an album packed with them. Other sweet spots; the stuttering Dukes of Stratosphere Hippie funk of, “Sundropped”. The Todd Rundgren flavored head nodder, “A Modest Flower” and a lovely tune with summer radio hit written all over it, “The Boy With the X-Ray Eyes”. This last one is a wonderful and anthemic pleaser whose chorus hook will have you humming for days.
What to say? How to summarize? “Beauty and the Beast” is simply a gorgeous and expansive release. Earthling Society has pulled off a true feat of artistic alchemy. They’ve taken their base metal goodness and transmogrified it into aural gold. With each release they’ve turned new corners, opened new doors and it’s led them here. This new perspective and sonic space may not be their final destination. It is however a lovely and satisfying touch down. Wherever they alight to next I’ll be willing to follow. What they’ve delivered on each outing never fails to satisfy and surprise.