The debauchery of science and the strength of love as brought from the End of Time into morality of song.
Michael Moorcock has kept an ephemeral presence on rock scene since 1975’s "Warrior On The Edge Of Time" saw his novel set to music, yet the concept of “An Alien Heat” harks back to en even earlier era, to the author’s 1972 book of the same title, a part of “The Dancers at the End of Time” trilogy. Back to sci-fi escapism, it’s space that’s being explored here – and not an inner one which Don Falcone’s project SPIRITS BURNING delved in on "The Roadmap In Your Head" but external expanse where members of the HAWKWIND and BLUE ÖYSTER CULT families feel at home. All this and the leader’s keyboards allowed the motley ensemble to create an organic experience – riveting as a songs cycle, if not amounting to a sonic spectacle per se.
It’s quite an infectious trip, from the light, yet powerful and playful, pulse of “Hothouse Flowers” – delivered by Buck Dharma and stricken with cowbell by Albert Bouchard who also supplied drums and vocals on most of the tracks – to “Old Friends With New Faces” whose lulling strum is shot through with Steve York’s anxious bass. It’s also naturally adventurous, and although the record’s events may seem unclear to those alien to Moorcock’s novels, the music will visit a few unexpected places during the album’s course. While Falcone’s classical piano elevates the otherwise narrative-focused “Virtue & Mrs. Amelia Underwood” and exotica weaves its wonder into “Quest For Bromley” alongside Anne Marie Castellano’s mesmeric wail, Andy Darby’s axe rocks the prog haze of “Thank You For The Fog” and Richie Castellano’s six strings sprinkle cosmic funk over the lucidly insidious “In The Future.” More so, country rears its head over the harder edge of “Any Particular Interest” – but it’s the ivories-led velvet vaudeville behind “Dark Dominion” that’s the obscure beacon of this work where Andy Shernoff has a field day before Cyrille Verdeaux’s strings turn “Seven Finger Solution” into a comical oratorio directed by Joe Bouchard’s voice.
There’s orchestral depth to many of the pieces – revealed in its entirety on the bonus disc housing the album’s instrumental mix, stripped of theatricality which shapes “Soirée Of Fire” and other storyline-propelling songs, but Moorcock’s own blues harp is ever-prominent, as is Jonathan Segel’s violin infusing the likes of “Doomed” with folksy sensibility. In such grandeur, the epic “To Steal A Space Traveller” takes sweet polyphony from Ken Pustelnik-driven motorik charge to reflective passages and back again, and ultimately makes the record a traditional art-rock offering. Solid, rather than ephemeral, “An Alien Heat” is heartwarming.