Hardy - "The Light" (Freaky Fungi 2000, FFCDR 002, originally released on cassette by Stone Premonitions, SPCC 008, 1996)
From Aural Innovations #13 (October 2000)
Mr Quimby's Beard keyboardist Hardy has finally made available on CDR his solo album which had been a cassette only release in 1996. While Mr Quimby's Beard is very much in the Hawkwind inspired spacerock realm, Hardy is a big Pink Floyd fan and this influence is much in evidence on The Light. The music flows seamlessly from one track to the next making this very much a single work that should be listened to from beginning to end.
The disc opens with "Space", a rumbling symphonic intro of whooshing and bubbling synths against an industrial drone which blends smoothly into "Vortex", a keyboard cross between Rick Wright and Harvey Bainbridge. This contrast and combination of the two influences helps give the music on The Light its character and, intentional or not, Hardy synthesizes the two into his own style. More overtly Bainbridge influenced is the title track, a spoken word piece with pulsating electro patterns and efx'd vocals that gave me a deja vu effect recalling Harvey himself performing at the Strange Daze festival this past August. But it segues into a different theme with tasteful guitar licks from Tim Jones amidst simple but majestic keyboards. "Lost Inside The Light" features more nice guitar work from Tim Jones cranking out wailing David Torn styled licks accompanied by a bubbly, almost techno keyboard pattern and another Harvey styled efx'd monolog.
Other highlights include "Before The Nightmare", an extended version of the opening of "Marijuana Nightmare" from the Mr Quimby's Beard's first album, here sounding a bit like Pink Floyd. On "Dunes", an anguished voice howls, "I'm trapped inside the light!!" Excellent voice efx add emotion to the mix and the keyboards have a real Wish You Were Here era Floyd sound. A nice simple melody that extends into a 10-minute jam and very tastefully played. "Greener Scenes" has a bit of a spacey Middle Eastern Hassan I Sahba sound. And "Beyond The Light" is a track that evolved over the years and ended up on The Definitive Unsolved Mysteries Of. The maturity and power of the later version would be difficult to match, but this embryonic rendition fits in stylistically with the rest of The Light and serves as a fitting closing number.
Overall, I'd say The Light is a must for Mr Quimby's Beard fans, and anyone into heavy keyboard dominated spacerock would certainly find much to enjoy. Since discovering Mr Quimby's Beard I've argued that the band would appeal to general prog rock fans as much as spacerockers and The Light showcases the keyboard component that helps to flesh out the band's sound.
You can visit Hardy at the Freaki Fungi web site. While there you can listen to this ENTIRE album online in RealAudio.
Contact via snail mail at Freaki Fungi; 3 Sussex St; Silksworth; Sunderland; Tyne & Wear; SR3 1BY; UK.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz