It's an odd one, for several reasons.The Amorphous Androgynous have released a teaser video of their recent collaboration with Peter Hammill, We Persuade Ourselves We Are Only Immortal to celebrate the release hitting streaming services from May 21. You can watch the new video clip below.
We Persuade Ourselves We Are Immortal was written with Hammill and also features Paul Weller on piano and guitar, and explores the theme of mortality and immortality. The epic suite took four years to create, and was recorded with over 100 musicians, including a 25-piece string orchestra and 50-piece choir The Chesterfield Philharmonic.
“I wanted this to be a no holds barred massive prog rock celebration that is rarely seen these days," explains AA's Garry Cobain. "But rather than the sound of seven hippies hanging around my french chateau it’s very much a post-modern back to front sonic twist of a vision - very much studio based balancing the best of what we do as sampling collage freakniks colluding with the most liberating musical performances I can inspire - very much moving forward rather than retreading the past!”
The music segues from a 13-minute prog opera opener with Peter Hammill to full on post-modern backwards sampladelic beat splurge Pysch Recap with disembodied vocals, to the finale Symphony On A Theme Of Mortality, which starts as a Vangelis circa Bladerunner soundtrack before lifting off into pure Floyd like female aria rock heaven with screaming guitar by Ray Fenwick (Ian Gillan Band and the Spencer Davis Group), and screaming diva Kendra Frost.
We Persuade Ourselves We Are Immortal is already available on CD and vinyl and a companion piece, an A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble remix album, featuring remixes and collaborations with the likes of Regal Worm and Cobalt Chapel and many more is also available..
Firstly, I'm bemused by the idea of a 'teaser' for an album that's been out for four months.
Secondly, it looks like the album is going to be widely distributed on streaming services, which goes totally against everything Gaz has said about streaming in the past - he's been very vocal in his dislike of Spotify and such, so I wonder what's changed his mind. Although, despite his insistence that he doesn't want his music on such services, the entire Amorphous discography is on Spotify (other than Alice in Ultraland, the rights of which recently returned to the band), while FSOL are far less well represented in terms of recent material. As ever, it's impossible to ever tell everything that's going on.
Thirdly, while Immortal is a great track, I don't really hear any of the "sampling collage freaknik" stuff in it at all - it feels like the logical conclusion of the journey Amorphous has been going on since late '96/early '97 - starting out as FSOL sampling organs and fuzz guitars, turning that into songs, gradually incorporating more live instrumentation, until it basically just sounds like a prog rock group. Immortal, and most of the work-in-progress material we've heard from the new album, feels so far divorced from the samples, loops and weird sounds approach of FSOL at this point (anything that's even remotely along those lines seems to end up on a FSOL album, a la 'In Solitude We Are Least Alone', 'Anacro Rhythm', etc) that it seems like a really weird thing to say. When they were working on The Isness and Alice in Ultraland, it was the only project they were working on, which is why you ended up with that really odd and unique mix of electronica and psych/prog. At this point, I don't think Gaz needs to fall back on the 'samplerdelica' type line: Immortal is just a big prog rock song.
Fourthly, it's, as ever, a huge shame that we've had a range of exciting, genre-busting FSOL material over the past few years, and it's only when a new Amorphous release comes around that we get any press response. There are a number of reasons I could speculate: Listening Beyond the Head Chakra probably cost a ludicrous amount of money to make in comparison with recent FSOL albums, so they need to push it; the wider music press is probably more interested in something like this than the IDM-ish approach of recent FSOL releases; Gaz is probably more interested in talking about this than FSOL. Either way, it's telling that the first comment on the YouTube video is someone asking if we could maybe have one more FSOL album one day. There are still sizeable parts of the fanbase - those who aren't here or on the Facebook group - who don't realise that there's actually been more new FSOL material in the past few years than in the whole of their '90s run put together, and I just feel that's a real shame given how utterly brilliant most of it is.
Anyway, that came out a lot more moany than I intended. Ultimately, it's just nice to see them mentioned in the press again, given that it's been quite a few years since we had any sort of interviews or reviews at all.
Here's the video that Gavin Penn and Gaz made to promote the wider release of the record:
It's hitting streaming in late May. We'll probably need a bit of a gap after that if they want to do any serious promotion for LBtHC, which means I doubt we'll be getting that album until late summer / early autumn at the very earliest. At this rate, we might not even be on schedule for the originally promised release of Christmas 2016.