Plastic Overlords are a power trio from the US. They call their music a 'blend of heavy melodic space and progressive rock music'. The band consists of John Eades (guitars), David Noel (vocals, bass, keyboards) and Brad Johnson (drums). When the people from the band's current label heard The Overlords' curious debut from 2000 in the psychedelic prog underground genre, they wondered whether they were listening to a new group or some overlooked gem from the glorious seventies. The press information mentioned that it didn't seem to matter as The Overlords were labelled contemporaries of early Genesis, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, King Crimson and Rush rather than latter-day imitators.
It seemed the band had vanished almost as soon as they had appeared. However, the sessions for their ambitious follow-up release were thought to be destroyed by an engineer's error. The band disbanded after creative differences which tore them apart. With their first album long out of print, Plastic Overlords were just a footnote in the first wave of the psychedelic prog resurgence. In 2010, the original masters were located and the band reunited. They remastered the best tracks of their first two recording sessions for a compilation album. By doing so they could complete their long-delayed vision of an album that contains epic dreamscapes in both sound and space.
The result of those remastered songs is the album Sonic Astronomy, which appears to be the very best of the band's original recordings. While listening to the eight tracks on this album I noticed that this is not the kind of progressive music that I like to hear most of the time. However, after a while all compositions made a lasting impression. In a way this mixture of space rock, psychedelic, metal and retro prog attracted me a lot. The musicians managed to blend these genres in a style that got a lot of groove and power. Maybe it helped that I enjoyed the albums recorded by Hawkwind and Roxy Music in the seventies, because influences from those bands can be heard throughout the album. Especially the Hawkwind albums Hall Of The Mountain Grill (1974), Warrior On The Edge Of Time (1975), Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music (1976) and Quark, Strangeness And Charm (1977) must have been influential to these musicians. But also the side project The Hawklords and their album 25 Years On (1978) could have been an inspiration. I think the albums Roxy Music (1972) and For Your Pleasure (1973) by Roxy Music with Brian Eno served more or less as a role model for Plastic Overlords as well. Especially the way both bands used the Mellotron brought back some fine memories. Finally I think the early albums made by Pink Floyd have been influential as well, because the psychedelic parts hold some references with The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967) and A Saucerful Of Secrets (1968).
People who enjoy the above-mentioned albums should try this one too. I'm sure they'll have some fine listening moments just like I had while playing Sonic Astronomy ! Let's hope that the new interest in the band will inspire the musicians to record a brand new album!
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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