LIFE ON MARS – Shadows In A Jar

Spirit Of Unicorn 2023

Shedding a fresh light on newly redrawn numbers, cosmic ensemble strip glam in favor of garage glory.

Shadows In A Jar

Despite the fact that the pair of its principal players are placed across the Pond from the source of music they compose as a unit, this group’s international appeal has been limited for about a decade, yet here’s the album which may change the Anglophile picture Americans Earl Kayoss and Fernando Perdomo framed themselves into. Signed to a proper record label now and faced with the need to embrace a wider audience, the ensemble decided to temporarily forgo the delivery of fresh material the duo do have, preferring instead to present the public with the band’s brightest moments. However, “Shadows In A Jar” is not a “best of” per se; by combining most of 2021’s "At Stars End" and a few earlier numbers – all remastered and some remixed – they sculpted a new context to humbly catch lightning in a bottle and look at familiar tunes from a new angle. If, previously, glam streamers blinded the listener, sandpaper sounds came to keep people on their toes.

This approach is at the fore of “Stray Dog” whose insistent, rough-hewn riffs picks up where the perennial “Have Love, Will Travel” left off only to turn its sentiment inside out, yet while such cuts as the raging opener “Ego” display an urgent groove and Earl’s vocals build tension from the get-go, this platter’s songs get high on Fernando’s instruments, first of all guitars that construct flaming solos on the likes of “The Key” and “Rock People” and pitch drama in the balladry of chamberesque “Technology” and vibrant “After all” – voiced and embellished with parts by, respectively, cellist Ruth Celli and bassist Billy Sherwood. And though the acoustically driven “Rabbits” tries to capture and keep the moment in the “What did you think… And what were you thinking?” line, six strings soar to catch orchestral eternity and pass the glory to the Mellotron of “And Besides…” before Denny Seiwell’s drums propel “She’s Already Gone” and “Only One” to a bittersweet catharsis.

But then there’s “Nancy’s Finger” – shoegaze-minded, albeit never glacial in its stereo-panned worry – and “Hurricane Jane” which marries spaced-out romanticism to a filigreed rawness until the desperate title track is shooting for the moon in order to pin a wonder to the album’s finale and close the lid on this elusive shadowplay. A valiant effort on every front.


April 24, 2023

Category(s): Reissues
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