[31 May 2007]
With four of the five members from Through the Sparks credited with playing “noise” on a full-length debut dedicated to the memory of Bob Moog, the inventor of the voltage-controlled synthesizer, you expect to hear blasts of prog rock coming from the speakers. What you don’t expect is a group of multi-instrumentalists producing many-layered soundscapes that temper these progressive elements with swathes of barrelhouse piano, grandiose harmonies, sweet southern-soul horns and a melodic, jazz-tinted country edge courtesy of Jody Nelson’s vocal crooning and pedal steel. Occasionally, the band from Birmingham, Alabamba, become unstuck with an eclecticism that tends to get away from them on a handful of numbers such as “The Smile of Your Shadow”, but when the songs are more focused, the end result is sublime. Highlights include the joyous, percussive restrain of “Mexico (Every Last Buffalo)” with pulsating organ underlining the more serious concern of American expansionism, and closer “A Natural Machine” that soars with sweet piano lines and bursts of melancholy trumpet—beautiful.