Cranium Pie - "Mechanisms Pt. 1"
(Fruits de Mer Records 2011, LP)
From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)
Offspring of an incestuous ménage a trois between Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Nektar, Cranium Pie raid the sacred archives of their spiritual forbearers for an appropriately cosmic concept album wherein, according to the press release that accompanies the disc, "From the radioactive dust of a post-apocalyptic mecha-tyranny, simple life forms strive to fulfill the wishes of the blinking eye, and create the ultimate homunculus, destined to fight for the right of the organisms." No kidding-I didn't make it up. Apparently the group's lyricist is seeing a whole team of psychiatrists, but Mechanisms, Pt. 1 is nevertheless quite fun-albeit in a silly sort of way-as retro space rock operas go. Robe Appleton (keyboards, synths, vocals), Tim Bray (vocals, theremin, electronics, percussion), Dan Herra (guitars, vocals), Steve Meadows (bass) and Julian Smith (drums) are the architects of a sound firmly rooted in both early 70's prog rock and late 60's psychedelia, though more precisely the group's sound is really a 21st century version of space rock, incorporating that genre's long history, from its early progenitors (the aforementioned Floyd, Hawkwind and Nektar) to its more recent standard bearers (Ozric Tentacles, Porcupine Tree, Omnia Opera). This Was Now, the album's opening track, features an airy Floydian soundscape peppered with delicate acoustic guitar and seagull cries. It's an effective introduction that segues into Rememberrr (their spelling, not mine), a blazing pastiche of the Floyd's Astronomy Domine and Nektar's A Tab in the Ocean. Herra's screeching psychedelic guitar recalls Roye Albrighton at his acid-drenched best. The excellent title track features more hot licks by Herra, though here accompanied by a catchy melodic organ motif that recirculates throughout the piece. Drying in the Sun shows that the group is also adept at handling primarily acoustic material. A distant cousin to Hawkwind's We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago, Drying in the Sun feels much like late 60's psychedelic folk with its apocalyptic lyrics, electronic effects and crystalline acoustic guitar. Recommended for fans of space rock, either of the old or new variety.
For more information you can visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at: http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree