Dr. Cosmo’s Tape Lab- “Beyond The Silver Sea”’ (music review)

‘Dr. Cosmo’s Tape Lab: “Beyond The Silver Sea”’ is something a little different and a lot special. It is a knowing retro-nod to great musical SF classics but with a perky 60s surf vibe.

dr cosmos cover

Imagine if Jeff Wayne’s ‘War Of The Worlds’ was played by the Beach Boys with guest guitarist Johnny Marr and was based on Orwell’s ‘1984’ and you still wouldn’t quite be there.

Max works in the sense factory. Here he works making sense out of nonsense. After a difficult night’s sleep, he awoke with a memory of a magical silver sea and a thought that perhaps things didn’t need to make as much sense as he had though previously. His growing feelings for a co-worker, Tricity, and contact with a mysterious individual, Doctor Magnetron, further make these feelings grow. Will the forces of sense destroy his dreams?

‘Beyond The Silver Sea’ is something rare and unusual. Musically, it harks back to the 1970s and their huge ‘Concept Albums’ full of grand sweeping ideas and the 1950s era SF stories.

There is grandeur and an epic sense to the story which is punctuated by catchy musical interludes. Each track is a snapshot which underlines and reinforces the story and pushes and pumps the narrative onwards.

Adam Smith, the narrator, has a voice which simply and clearly relates Max’s story. There is a little touch of Billy Boyd about the soft tones of Smith’s voice. It serves to tie the musical tracks together and build the layers of the story.

I love the scale and scope of the album. It powers along happily, while punching out a SF tale worthy of the genre golden age. The Smiths reference earlier is valid. They were known for a distinctive perky happy sound with deceptively deep lyrics. There are touches of that here. Why can’t music power the mind as well as all the traditionally nebulous organs and emotions?

Music often has a stagnant and uninteresting feel. It is nice to find something a little out of the ordinary and ‘Beyond The Silver Sea’ has this for sure.

I have listened to the album all the way through a number of times. This has been a long review to write because I would stop and listen often. Interesting has become a non compliment, second only to fine in its perception.

Is there a movement to reclaim either word? Hopefully there is. Fine, as in finest, and interesting, as in grabbed my interest through each successive listen. Both words may be used to describe this excellent work.

Gauging who this album is targeted to is a little tricky. If you are bored of the mundane popular music output and are looking for something with its SF head on to match the soul in its music, this could be the album for you.

Andy Bollan

August 2015

(pub: Sugarbush Records. Vinyl LP/Digital Download. Cat. no. SB014 limited to 300 copies. £15.99 (UK))

check out website: www.sugarbushrecords.com/p/sugarbush-records-label.html

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