Alloy Now - Twin Sister Of The Milky Way

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Cracked Egg Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:31:00

Twin Sister Of The Milky Way is a fun album to listen to - energetic, quirky rhythms, punctuated with wry, off-kilter vocals. There is such a sense of cheerfulness about this album that it's infectious. It isn't a pop rock album, though -- psychedelia is where Alloy Now are at. Their muse -- or rather the muse of David Noel, as this is essentially a solo project -- seems to be the same one that visited the late Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy), Monty Python, and others, but I certainly wouldn't call this a comedy album. But I think if you can appreciate the more subtle humour of Monty Python (even if it's couched in the more obvious brand), and a very wry look at things, then you'll appreciate Alloy Now. The irony, I suppose, is that Noel is apparently an American (he does at least live in the US). Noel also is a member of Plastic Overlords.

There are some Pink Floyd like textures, here, and also some very classic moments -- violins on "A Sunny Day In England," for example. A song that otherwise makes me think of "One Of My Turns" from the The Wall, if only lyrically. Alloy Now are David Noel on vocals, bass, guitars, keys and drums, with Gordon Noel on violin, and James Bridges on drums and backing vocals. Greg Halter and Chris Reid play bass and drums on "Ghostly Superhero," respectively.

I have to say that "The Butterscotch Star," which opens the album, has the most fun arrangement and sounds as if it could have been part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It begins with a wavery, open keys and guitar; walking bass, light percussion ... gently delivered lyrics in soft yet ironic way. Then we get this energetic rhythm, shimmering guitar textures ... later in the track, there's a moment when I think of Red-era King Crimson, if only much, much softer around the edges. Hmm, maybe a little of Van Der Graff Generator, as Noel here has a voice that is one part Hammill, one part Wetton ... but even that doesn't quite capture it, I don't think. It's a voice that is strong with underlying fragility. The track is a contrast between being very spacey and being danceable...well, if you're a contortionist, I suppose. Oh, I don't know, it's just a fun track to listen to.

"Mysteries Of Ancient Earth" is an acoustic guitar based piece that has a strong 60's psychedelic feel (as does most of the album, intentionally) that I imagined as being something that George Harrison and Ringo Starr would have collaborated on. That is, Harrison composing the music, Starr the lyrics and giving the performance, though I'd hard pressed to say that David Noel sounds like Starr, there is something in his delivery that has a Starr quality.

Dark, haunting, spacey keys open "Shoulder Of Orion." In the background is some very light, tinkling percussion to which is soon added a deep, pounding drum, strummed guitar, organ, and something that sounds like a xylophone; as the track builds, the tension increases ever so subtly. This track is dramatic and solemn, the drum rhythm having a march like quality to it, just quick enough to not be funereal.

"Fatlands" takes us back to the psychedelia of the first part of the album -- Cream and the Yardbirds came to mind. Though at the beginning and points through out, we get some heavy, grinding guitar and fat bass lines, making me think of Hendrix. Throughout, the bass of Noel is felt, as it's the lead instrument rather than electric guitar. Though Noel does also give us a guitar solo. "Ghostly Superhero" begins with acoustic guitar and has a decidedly English character, but more so modern-retro UK pop - Oasis, come immediately to mind, and the like. There is a feel of familiarity to it, that you feel almost certain you've heard it elsewhere - it's radio friendly. Or, as what seems more important these days, movie-soundtrack friendly. None of that should be taken as criticism, as it is a quite likeable track. The title track begins with a guitar solo that made me think a bit of Hendrix' version of "Star Spangled Banner" but also of "Hey Joe." The Beatles will also come to mind, circa Magical Mystery Tour (in fact, there are some la la las that seems about to lead into that very album's title track). This song evolves into a very bluesy number with tinkling piano-like keys, devolves back again into what came before, adding some rather Pink Floyd-like textures --- I guess I'm imagining a jam session where Hendrix and Floyd play together on a Beatles composition.

Yes, I quite like this. Jolly good and recommended.

The Butterscotch Star (9:24) / A Sunny Day In England (4:37) / Mysteries Of Ancient Earth (6:32) / Shoulder Of Orion (6:34) / Fatlands (5:19) / Ghostly Superhero (4:32) / Twin Sister Of The Milky Way (5:33)

David Noel - vocals, bass, guitars, keys and drums
Gordon Noel - violin
James Bridges - drums and backing vocals
Greg Halter - bass (6)
Chris Reid - drums (6)

Twin Sister Of The Milky Way (2000)

Genre: Psychedelic/Space Rock

Origin UK

Added: August 31st 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1303
Language: english


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