“Lonely Robot is a gloriously ambitious sonic adventure, produced and performed to perfection.” – – Steven Wilson
When one of Prog’s reigning demi-gods writes the above about an album there’s not much more to be added—but I will because the Prog muse is constraining me to yell from the rooftops BUY THIS ALBUM…IT IS A MASTERPIECE!
I would not have known of this album this early (it’s set for an American release on March 10th) were it not for the ‘first-look’ shout-out it received from Progarchy reviewer “Nick” in his “First Impressions” blog post of 25 February (http://progarchy.com/2015/02/25/february-first-impressions/) But the web-site PROGSTREAMING, which allowed me hear the complete album, sealed the deal. Steven Wilson was telling the truth: PERFECTION indeed!
With more “hooks” than a Bass Master tackle box, incredible musicianship, glorious melodies everywhere, and some of the most intelligent and sensitive lyrics to ever grace a song-set, John Mitchell has released an impressionistic, tone-poem, themed song cycle, of absolutely epic proportion. This is a concept album for the ages. I do not exaggerate. Mitchell has penned and recorded his own Hamlet or Macbeth; he need write nothing further to be enshrined in Prog’s Valhalla, or upon its Mount Rushmore (Olympus) alongside Close to the Edge, Dark Side of the Moon, and Selling England by the Pound.
The themes of alienation, origin, loss, identity, and transitoriness, are woven together in an exquisite tapestry of existentialist aural magic. And not to be dismissed is the very clever and apropos cover art to the album featuring a photo which includes the iconic Robby the Robot from the (also austere and existentialist) 1956 classic movie Forbidden Planet (which had its own groundbreaking Prog score—the totally electronic gem by Bebe and Louis Barron).
This album is so entrancing the passage of time stops and one is left wanting to re-listen to every track and then wondering ‘what happened to my afternoon?’ when the disc is over.
Every track receives my highest “A+” rating and I would have gladly purchased the album after having listened to only track 1 Airlock! A detailed song by song analysis would be enjoyable for me but tedious for a reader—this has to be a blog post and not a thesis or novella.
The composite experience is so united and cohesive I even have a difficult time choosing my favorite song or two. Oubliette just melts your brain with beauty and the title track, Lonely Robot is simply the best pop-Prog tune I’ve heard; in a truly just and decent world this song would be a Top Ten constant radio play Platinum seller! But to try and pick favorite songs on this sonorous cornucopia would be like trying to choose your favorite children in a family of eleven saints.
- Airlock 3:51
- God vs. Man 5:41
- The Boy in The Radio 4:51
- Why Do We Stay 5:15
- Lonely Robot 8:09
- A Godless Sea 5:28
- Oubliette 5:20
- Construct/Obstruct 5:46
- Are We Copies 6:18
- Human Being 5:34
- The Red Balloon 2:04
Special accolades to Heather Findlay who sings an ethereal and transcendent duet with Mitchell on track 4, Why Do We Stay—sublime! In fact, musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer John Mitchell (performing now under the moniker LONELY ROBOT) has himself a simple, clear, earnest, and captivating voice. Kudos also to Mitchell’s entire backing cast: Kim Seviour (another soprano song-bird), guitarist Nik Kershaw, Jem Godfrey on keys, and the rhythm section of Nick Beggs (bass) & Craig Blundell (drums).
I kept thinking as listening “how good can this get…it just keeps getting better!” The album’s ends last track, The Red Balloon, ends with the haunting theme of bittersweet departure shrouded in the hope to meet again some day. This is now my request to John Mitchell, that he returns to the studio at the earliest possible time.
A soaring, moving, musical experience like this does not come often. This is a “Desert Island” album and I officially declare it to be my FAVORITE ALBUM of 2015 (that means SOMETHING as I type these words on 28 February).
An A+++ rating, wherein A+ is the highest there is.
Sites worth checking:
http://www.progstreaming.com/_wb/pages/play-album.php?activeAlbum=01098 – Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
SEA OF TRANQUILITY interview with John Mitchell:
John Mitchell’s cool FACEBOOK page: