The Earthling Society are one of those bands who really intrigue me. The music that they produce it more often than not beyond classification, and while on their website they claim the primary influences of 60s psychedelia and 70s bands such as Can, Ash Ra Tempel, Popol Vuh and Amon Duul 2, there is something more to what they produce.
Hailing from Fleetwood in Lancashire the current trio, there have been numerous personnel changes since their formation in 2004, are producing music that is compelling, contrasting and, in a number of ways, essentially English. This is perhaps hinted at in the 2014 Riot Season release ‘England Have My Bones’, which was a wonderfully eclectic and sprawling album that has just kept on giving in the two years since its release.
Now comes ‘Sweet Chariot’, released by German label Clostridium Records, which is a further exploration of the bands sound and, to my ears, very different from it’s predecessor in all but the Earthling Society guarantee that it will be of high quality, unexpected and extremely satisfying. Put it this way if anyone was to merely dip into this album at any point they would totally fail to understand where the album or the band were coming from because each track on here is so different, and needs to be listened to in its entirety.
The album opens with ‘Eddie’, initially reminding me of White Hills with its elements of space rock and feedback before mellowing into something more jagged. This relatively raw track with its unfocused vocal and untuned harmonies gradually finds some groove as the track somehow pulls together, a process at the beginning of the album that it perhaps tuning us in to the band’s sound. This is certainly a complex track which only gradually makes sense, and sets us up well for what it to come.
After the chaos and confusion of ‘Eddie’ comes a hugely contrasting number ‘All In A Dream’, which is altogether more mellifluous. Although it continues the spacey theme it very quickly settles into something altogether more pastoral and folky. This is a far more fragile track that is borne out of emotion, one that forces you to slow down and take stock; and even though there are a few suggestions of the Earthling Society sound in the background this is really as melodious I have heard the band, before the track really does drift off into some sort of dream like state taking us with it.
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The slow and quiet atmosphere is retained with ‘When a Child Cries an Angels Sighs’, which has a lovely rhythm to it and, perhaps because I’m listening to it a lot at the moment, somehow shares an atmosphere with The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ album with its effected vocal and glorious harmonies. This is not what I was expecting to hear on this album but is, nevertheless, something that I greatly appreciate and is something that acts as an effective contrast for what is to come.
The remainder of the album, probably the second side of the vinyl version, is made up of two longer tracks ‘Sweet Chariot Parts 1 & 2’ where we see the space thrusters being fully fired as we move away from the bucolic planet that we have been inhabiting thus far. The track begins as if in some sort of forest rich with wildlife before the engines are started up and we blast off on a space rock journey into the mind and bringing up new vistas and sonic landscapes. Part 1 is quite ambient in quality in that it really washes over you, while Part 2 is much less passive and immediately ups the tempo. This is still a space rock journey but with jazz undertones and some fantastic guitar work screaming through the universe with thrust blazing, eventually settling down and allowing the jazz elements of the track through to the fore.
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Where as Part 1 was settled and settling, Part 2 feels far more restless barely staying in one place for any length of time. This is a track that is always on the move, a track that seems to be on a sonic quest which ends with a very quiet and low key resolution that is almost zen-like in its simplicity, and certain has a Japanese element to it, ending with a single symbol sound.
‘Sweet Chariot’ is not an easy album to summarise since there is so much going on here, even for an Earthling Society release. If I were to discern a common thread it would probably be that this, in the main, feels like an introverted album that encourages inward reflection. What it certainly is is an album that you will not get bored of because the is so much going on here, music that reflects and engenders many different emotions and after hearing it I certainly felt a great deal of satisfaction in what I had just experienced.
‘Sweet Chariot’ is available from Clostridium Records in the following versions:
* limited to 500 copies
* 97 x blue-red-Split-Colour-Mix
( DIE HARD edition, incl a very nice goody-bag..each bag different!! )
*203 x RED -180gr Vinyl
*200 x black – 180gr Vinyl
* A 4 Insert
*black poly-lined innersleeve
* pressed in Germany
…and the red and black vinyls also available from the Earthling Society bandcamp page, as is a digital download.
You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here.