It's a vividly realised record, one that reminds you just how vibrant and wide-ranging this genre can be, as though Adams and Black are casting their eyes what's been done before, what could be realised in the future and what tangents and side-paths might be explored. At one point ('Siren') it seems that they've hit on a similar formula to Danny Faulkner's Pre-Med albums, all urgent keyboards and driving bass lines – dynamic, contemporary and highly charged - and at another they've let Nik Turner loose with some lovely and haunting flute music for his own 'Osiris' musings. They veer out of sci-fi and into fantasy, Kim Novak's strong and precise vocal delivery on 'Dragonslayer' repaying the sense of majesty that resonates within both its lyrics and music. 'Technology' I've tried hard to put my finger on – is it influenced by early Porcupine Tree? Perhaps in part, it has that progressive-rock feeling to it, and some über-geek lyrics, but in its instrumental moments maybe there's also a touch of Pink Floyd.
In fact, there's a lot that's hugely exciting about Remnants Of Life, much of which is pulled together and conceptualised in the sprawling fifteen minute final track, 'End Of Something', the sort of number that cries out for replaying just as soon as it ebbs away in its final moments: arresting, intriguing and properly immense. If it were a sci-fi novel, it'd be a doorstep-sized space opera page-turner. It's an album that I've played a lot since receiving, and which I'll absolutely be playing a lot more in the future. Spot on stuff.
Lost is less immediately accessible than I found Remnants... to be, and it's also a little less space rock and a little more veering towards progressive rock with an overarching storyline that works or doesn't work according to your liking for concept works – I'm not as negative as I would have been a few years ago, though I'll confess to still not always being hugely enamoured at albums that attempt to roll-up their tracks into one opus idea, I'd guess that I've still enough punk rock running through my veins to want to be saying, "Give me a song .... Give me another song ... and again". So this one took a little longer to grow on me than its more upfront and forthright sibling did.
But, and it's a big but, it's a record that does repay putting just a little more effort into getting to know and understand it, and I'm immensely glad that I've made that effort, played it several times and learned to appreciate its quality and its qualities. You'll note, of course, my own riffing around the idea of 'quality' and it's deliberate since this album is studded with high quality work – highly professional musicianship (I love the mix of pride and frustration that seems to exist so that where more high profile players will note their sponsorship deals, that leads these guys announce "Dave & Milo exclusively use instruments and equipment bought with their own money"), brilliant vocal performances and some damned good songs.