[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
When I first put this album on I had to double-check the names to be sure I was hearing 7JK at that is about all that’s the same. They have left planet Earth and are journeying through the cosmos at incredible speed; there is not one song on here which isn’t borne of urgency. This record asks many more questions than it answers, never deviating from the flight path it is on to destinations unknown. For example, who is Barry and why does he like boiled rice so damn much? ‘Ride the Solar Tide’ is the sort of creation you put on and find yourself getting completely overwhelmed by; “Dark Energy” is opened by what sound like typewriter keys doing their best machine gun impersonation. Violins dance about this strange staccato rhythm stabbing at it persistently until the tension and suspense become palpable.
During “Guidance is Internal” I kept expecting Richard Hoagland to jump out at me as there are several other moon conspirists sampled on it. Matt just keeps intoning the same mantra “Guidance is internal, guidance… is internal…” while all around him transmissions beam in from who knows where and posit their best material as fact. I’m far too cynical to go along with what any of this lot love to bleat out but the song itself uses a perfection combination of percussion and programming along with those slinky strings to really put one in orbit around our satellite; you look down and what do you see? Rocks.
But what lies beneath them.
“Black Hole Entropy” and “Undergrowth” left me wondering what else could possibly be left for this band to explore and then it hit me that they have no agenda, there’s no outline nor will there be any radio play garnered by what they’ve done. There could easily be for a few of the tracks on this, though. With just a bit more polish and some proper product placement… no! No no no, not now not ever. Some things in this world must remain pure, I think we could all use some of that at this point. Just about every other institution out there is crumbling or devolving into it’s crudest and most base form.
They definitely have chemistry, our pair. For having lost a member it hasn’t affected them much and if anything has brought them back to us with a focus and a hunger I didn’t expect to find; for being 45 minutes in length they manage to pack an awful lot of story-line in.
Yes, ‘Ride the Solar Tide’ is indeed a tale. One of interstellar explorations to the very edge of reality with a head-first dive into what lies beyond, it addresses topics most won’t be too terribly interested by (there’s some critical thinking involved) and it also has some of the catchiest pieces yet heard on the Redroom label. It must have been tempting to take the quick and easy route of broadening the appeal but they managed to resist, letting nothing and I do mean nothing interfere or distract from the tale they’re presenting. “Starseed” truly lives up to the name its been given; we’re not indigenous to our beloved Earth is what it implies and there are a multitude of explanations given for this. Here’s mine. We began where the asteroid field is now, fleeing when that planet was about to explode. Next, we came to Mars and left it uninhabitable. Now, we are here. Lovely pattern, yes?
This is the sort of introspection which ‘Ride the Solar Tide’ will lead you into, it is a work designed to get a person thinking; the fact that it’s so ornately designed is no accident. As the artwork implies, there is a path yet to be taken…