Magentalane Music 2020
Former KLAATU driver endeavors to further his real-world fantasies and make it all real.
Mostly known as a drummer for a famous anadian trio, Terry Draper never let this in-the-back position limit his creative flights – otherwise his “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” wouldn’t become a hit for THE CARPENTERS back in 1977 – and the slew of solo works the veteran’s released over the decades testifies to it. The flight of a “lost” 2020 and Tolkien’s wise “Not all those who wander are lost” were what inspired Terry to come up with a concept that should resonate with many of us, especially those who know the unexpectedness of Draper’s oeuvre.
If the record’s cover suggests adventure, that’s what this album is about, indeed – with pastel-hued, pastoral, if psychedelic, pieces such as “A New Journey” and the cosmic waltz “I Am Voyager” or even the blues-tinctured “A Walk In The Park” informing, in diverse ways, the entire song cycle with a sense of motion… Only there’s much more to it all than literal movement and inherent innocence. There are reveries and an inquiring mind trying to locate reality amid the lucid, albeit sometime dark, dreams. Static posturing doesn’t belong here, and while “Home” may depict pandemic-induced lockdown, its old-timey swagger is playfully catchy, pitching a wanderlust itch in the gloomy circumstances and entailing the breezy, synthesizer-smoothed groove of “Armchair Travelers” – yet the Renaissance-styled “The Edification Of Edward” will offer a different sort of trip: down the well of ages – another vector Draper would always follow.
From the title track’s serene, and deceptive, solipsism, where sounds of nature enter one’s subconscious together with tender strum and delicate piano, before stereo-traversing soft vocals flow in and unfold a vast vista and riffs start to seep in, to the luxurious, orchestral finale of “Pangaea” which harks back to prehistoric era, when terra firma was whole and free of strife, there’s a sense of wonder that the 69-years-old has retained to this day. Terry reaches to a child in him in “Ponce de Leon” – and finds the Fountain of Eternal Youth in the song’s progressive pulse, and also in the belligerence of “The Sultan’s Dream” whose art-rock pastiche is irresistibly arresting. As Bill Nadeau’s jangly guitars propel his harmonic explorations, some misty-eyed numbers seem to veer between fantasy and sci-fi, but cuts like the spoken-word-adorned “The Sun Never Sets (On The British Empire)” delve into myth making of the not-so-distant past.
Still, the path outlined by the heavy disco of “Land For A Flag” – carrying a Bowie vibe – leads the listener astray, to the search for love rather than self, and to a Tolkien quote which gave the album its title. This is the perfect spot to place the warm balladry of “There’s No Goin’ Back” – scintillating and smeared with sax – yet romantic drift will be replaced with laughter once a Mozart line gets mangled for “Great Big Bullies” – written for an animated film: a delight for that inner child – to march towards sunset. The march must mean a long and winding road for Terry Draper – a road mapped out clearly now, so nobody’s ever lost anymore in his world.