The last I heard of Stephen Bradbury’s alter ego Black Tempest was on one of the albums of the year so far this year… ‘Dataland’ with the Dead Sea Apes and Adam Stone, of which I wrote at the time:
This data-driven, and lockdown data-sharing, album is further enhanced however by the the electronics of Black Tempest, who adds a layer of synthesised sound to the set giving it it’s ‘sheen of data’ which deepens the relationship between the words, music and subject matter.https://fragmentedflaneur.com/2021/01/20/album-appreciation-dataland-by-adam-stone-dead-sea-apes-and-black-tempest/
Here though Bradbury goes for the whole shebang in a set which doesn’t so much add sheen to a dystopia as forensically beat one out with a series of tracks which are visceral and quite different from his last much more subdued solo outing ’Psyberspace’. Indeed, right from the start he takes the psyberbull by the horns and blasts you with ’23rd Century Space Station’ which is a swirling eddy of heavy matter sucking in the likes of Hawkwind and Foxx/ Ultravox to name but two… it’s a real rocker which well and truly announces the arrival of this album.
After that ’Sacred Machinery’ does the same trick except it’s the electronics that are in your face here rather than the guitar, with pulses and beats banging away like some demented mid-era Kraftwerk… you feel yourself being transported off world with this space motorik which seems to posses a steel pulse within a velvet glove. This is a vibe that is somewhat continued with ’Spaceway Freedom Fighter’… except the guitar and synths are combined to good effect to create a narrative to accompany our journey.
Things slow down somewhat with ’Android Daydream 1’, a far more reflective and considered track in which you can see that flow of data in your minds eye. It’s probably up to you whether you see electric sheep… but there is certainly a sense of the unknown here. After which you have a feel for something a little more upbeat… something which is duly delivered by the sharp and angular ’Liberation Space Dub’. At this point the album has most definitely reached cruising velocity and we are seemingly being carried along in our own dreamlike state as the nebulas drift by.
‘Android Daydream 2’, however, feels like a much more disturbed affair… an electronic fever dream which raises all sorts of doomsday scenarios in your head… probably the darkest moment of the album this is a moment of anxiety which can throw you right off things if you’re not careful. Fortunately ’Star Fall’ is there to catch you… another Hawkwind-influenced rocker, but with a punk edge to it… this lightens the mood a little and gives you the feeling of being on a sort of space road movie… the flick definitely switching between the passive and the active…
…until we arrive at the ‘Temple of the Sun Machine’. For me there is a sense of arrival here… quite where I’m not sure… for although you feel at rest there is plenty going on around you… maybe you’re now a ghost in the machine, or your true nature is revealed and you finally believe in the Westworld. Then as the piano comes in at the end I am reminded of Numan’s space ballad ’Complex’ and this gives me a whole new angle on this album as a space story… and a great yarn it is.
The early orders of this album were shipped with an EP entitled ’Psyborg Augmented’, five new tracks and a demo of ’Spaceway Freedom Fighter’… I imagine that if the album itself is reflective of a long space journey… then these are deleted scene along the way. These would be more the soundtrack of any movie that may be made since they are more atmospheric for the most part… but are definitely worth getting to play alongside this album.
Fortunately Stephen has made these available through the ’Psych Lovers’ Bandcamp page (see Here), with proceeds going to the Cancer charity ‘Macmillan Cancer Support’… well worth supporting in my opinion!
‘Psyborg’ is released by The Weird Beard, and available here.
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