Egg 1978 / Esoteric 2017
With arrows of desire, ambient rock pioneer embarks on mental flight to get his chariots of fire.
In hindsight the parallel between two Blakes, Tim and William, may see obvious – deeper than their last names, this link has much to do with the artists’ intrepid poetics – but the former stumbled upon the idea of taking the latter’s symbolism to the space epoch rather accidentally. Once he did, there was no turning back, and the resulting album retains its deliberately retrofuturist charm in a way objects in a time capsule would – although the celestial city built by Blake the musician is much more accessible than those. Still…
Arcadian, if warped, “A Song For A New Age” may come as a surprise to the listeners who saw "Crystal Machine" as a perfect vehicle for Tim’s talents, as its successor’s opener not only places the player – pictured on the album’s cover at the control center of his keyboards rig – in pseudo folk environment, but also finds Blake playing acoustic guitar and singing. Yet birds tweets of this pastoral piece turn out to be cosmic reverberations perfectly feeding into such a foray into the heavenly sphere that is displayed in the throb of “Lighthouse” – soon to become a staple of HAWKWIND shows – which will carry a computer voice to where nervous nebulae meander through electronic haze and accordion-like vapors. These trails tap in the texture of their temporal period on “Generator (Laser Beam)” in order to deliver disco groove to the aliens, while the Gallic lucidity behind “Passage Sur La Cité (Des Révélations)” has “adventure” written all over its ambient panorama.
But there’s tentative, transparent spiritual triumph to the titular epic whose organ tops zoned-out synthesizers with baroque eloquence and stitches together an ever-shifting tapestry that takes “And did those feet in ancient time” towards eras-to-come. Progressive in its every twist and turn, “New Jerusalem” is one of criminally overlooked classics – forged in the crosshairs of symphonic intent and technical innovation and, when reassessed years later, demonstrating no sign of deterioration. Maybe this is because so much thought went into it, as documented on expansive home recordings “From Outta Space” and “Jupiter To Jerusalem” which add little to the overall experience yet expose experimental aspect of Tim’s method to bare Blake’s creative process.
Not that it was too serious: single B-side “The Woodland Voice” – another bonus track here – measures music continuum in reggae terms, but subtle humor doesn’t destroy the record’s symbolism. Four decades on, “New Jerusalem” remains the shining city in the sky.