When aliens land on this mortal coil, American master of melodious sound locates them in our midst.
Multi-instrumentalist Mark Murdock’s been around the music bend long enough to know there’s no need to invent the wheel anew to make it roll, and no need to change tack if sailing is smooth. That’s why the Tokyo-based veteran’s creative development can’t be called revolutionary, and yet it has invariably resulted in solid records. With almost the same team that helped sculpt "The Phoenix Has Risen" in 2020, he embarks on a new sci-fi trip now – a cosmic sort thereof – the sole soaring guitar at the pulse-like start of the album’s titular opener setting the scene for Tim Pepper’s soft voice to appear and take the listener for a ride through ages and parsecs.
What will ensue is the purest progressive rock, as Murdock’s drums and old-school synthesizers – so comforting on the streamlined instrumental fusion of “The Purveyors Of Underworld Ideas” – propel aural images across captivating panorama, in which the ripples of “Time Travelers From The Future” ebb and flow from the dancefloor to the shoegaze reflectiveness, all pierced with Dave Juteau’s insistent six strings. But while Fernando Perdomo’s orchestral chords cut into the mystic air of Mark’s ivories on “The Tarnished Mirror” to the beat of Ric Parnell’s metronomic thunder, and the flight of “Adapted For Theater” feels entrancing, the proper, epic theatrics lead “False Algorithims” beyond the clouds, the main man’s melodies increasingly gripping, before “Forgotten Episodes” offers an upbeat drive with a memorable pop edge, mesmeric keyboards passages, and Katsumi Yoneda’s romantic licks that seem linked to the organ-fueled “Somewhere And Nowhere” which scales lyrical heights.
Yet “The River Of Illusion” that sees NEKTAR’s Ron Howden and Derek Moore heave a psychedelic groove for Mark’s son Preston to chop with a twang of acidic axe, and intricate lines of “Sub-Reactional Stratospheric Complex” try to fathom space without a word, “Friction” turns to humanity’s woes and lets Joe Berger’s bluesy swirl tighten the number’s meta layer until it hurts. Still, nothing here can challenge the chart potential of “Shadows That Stood Between The Lies” whose funky runs are simply irresistible, as is the nuanced balladry of “In Speculation” that brings this journey to the finale – closer to home. “Visitors From Another Planet” belong here, after all.
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