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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets

Spaceship Zero Soundtrack

Review by Gary Hill

There are some who will never get the Thickets. Either the group's particular blend of alternative, metal, punk and other sounds will turn them off, or they just will not understand the sense of humor and the macabre (especially HP Lovecraft's mythos) that permeates this band's material. After listening to this album I really have to pity those who fall into that group. They are missing out on a lot of fun. This is certainly the most polished sounding album the band have done, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. They seem to be getting a better grip on the production end of things. The album also shows a wider variety of music than either of the previous two. What this disc does have in common with its predecessors, though, is a similar musical format and the definite sense of humor and the absurd. This is arguably the best thing to have come from this band, so, if you enjoy their form of art, by all means pick it up. If you even think you might enjoy it, I heartily recommend that you give it a try. Basically if you don't like this one, you won't like the others, so it is a great place to start what might become a new obsession. The CD also includes a few bonuses for use on your computer. Essentially those bonuses are two videos with a very cool interface.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Theme to Spaceship Zero
Suitably, '50's sci-fi oriented sounds start this cut, and a frantic punky drone carries the cut through a count down. Musically this feels a bit like a cross between the Groovy Ghoulies, The Ramones and The B-52's. It is high energy and fun.
Twenty Minutes of Oxygen
Starting with a fairly slick, almost '80's rock sound, the chorus is darker and more metallic. The instrumental break on this is stunning. "If I had the brains that's what I'd do, Build that time door and, Poke my head through, It's too late now and I'm still dumb, Twenty minutes of oxygen."
The Innsmouth Look
Hard-edged, fast-paced and driving, this one rocks out quite well. The humorous Lovecraftian lyrics are great. "One glance was all it took, She gave me the Innsmouth look"…"She's got secrets, but they'll soon be mine, Oh father Dagon smiles upon me from the bas relief, And something's fishy down at devil reef." The bridge on this one is quirky and fun and features the lyrics, "Obed was a sailor, He sailed the 7 seas, He made love to the fish, He made love to the fishies."
Power Up
A quirky sort of alternative rocker about a bunch of washed up superheroes, this one is a lot of fun..
BTL Drive
Technically an instrumental since the only words are movie sound bites, this one is full of effects and a wonderfully ominous batch of music. It makes for a great change of pace.
Frogstar
Musically this feels a bit like the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer". It is catchy and fun, but not a real standout.
Dies Is Umverschamtheit
With a growling, bouncing punk rock guitar intro, this drops to a tasty sort of retro sounding riff that combines punk rock sounds with '70's spy theme song type music. All of the lyrics except the last lines, "This is an outrage, Where are you taking me?" are sung in German.
Oblivion
Atmospheric, mysterious and keyboard dominated, this short instrumental is pretty at times in its melody. Hawkwindish elements show up a bit on this one.
The Chosen One
Starting with the sounds of a car running off and an ending of another song, this one is quite quirky and driving. It shifts gear later to a more raw and punky segment.
Slave Ship
This is another fast paced piece that really rocks. It features a very cool break that touches on '70's hard rock with a bit a wink. This is a considerably strong number as it carries on. Again it gets a bit Hawkwind oriented, particularly on the extended outro.
Requiem For a Clone Hunter
Starting in a classic rock ballad mode, this is pretty traditional late '70's arena rock in terms of music. However, the only words here are movie sound bites, and lots of them, in rapid-fire succession. This is almost a bit progressive rock oriented, particularly in the very tasty bass work. This one is quite cool and quite effective.
Kablam!
This one begins feeling a lot like the hard-edged mode of Hawkwind circa The Chronicle of the Black Sword. A driving drum line dominates the cut. It breaks into a triumphant sounding arena rock oriented segment and includes a great retro sounding keyboard at times. It is quite a catchy number.
Sounds of Tindalos
Beginning with a bass line that feels a lot like early Alice Cooper, this one is quirky yet accessible. Not many bands can pull that combination off. It gets quite punky at times and features a very tasty guitar solo.
End Credits
Sound effects and white noise begin this, then a drum machine enters. Weird, fairly cheesy keyboard textures then take the piece. One could almost describe this segment as Kraftwerk on a shoestring budget. As it carries on more power and character develop, bringing it into the vein of electronic instrumental prog. It gets quite powerful at times.
Hidden Track
There is a hidden track here that sounds like dialog from a space horror movie.
 
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