|1. Hot Tent Blues|
|3. Space And The Woods (Cenzo Townshend Mix)|
|4. The Bears Are Coming (Original)|
|5. Random Firl|
|6. Heartbeat (Cenzo Townshend Version)|
|10. The Enemy Are The Future|
|11. Mad Dogs And Englishmen|
|12. Bathroom Gurgle|
The group tick a great deal of boxes: they have released the requisite amount of indie singles; live, they perform genre-bending shows, with a strong sense of theatre; and they all have pseudonyms such as Francis Dudley Dance and Red Dog Consuela. So far, so sod off Grandad. But then, you hear those musical references and you realise they are working with a broad palette beyond their years - Fantasy Black Channel frequently flips between prog, funk, Gary Numan, Todd Rundgren, Frank Zappa and, um, Nik Kershaw. All styles are served here - it leaves few stones unturned and lead singer Samuel Eastgate has all the vocal mannerisms to carry it off.
Space And The Woods instrumentally sounds like a session leftover from Numan's The Pleasure Principle with emo-friendly lines such as, "Suicide is in my blood, it always was" and "put on my radiation suit and slip away." The Bears Are Coming is a great pop stomp with bluesy middle eight and a tea cup for percussion. The album builds to an impressive crescendo. The Enemy Are The Future, its choppiness flavoured with Eastgate's crooning, posits the contradictory statements that life is both easy and hard over six frenetic minutes. The closing Bathroom Gurgle, has been already likened to Sparks' entire career in one song as it reaches its nu-raving dénouement of, "Put your hands on your waistline and move your body to the bassline."
Some of it is a bit too rich. The synth and double-tracked guitar of Random Firl sounds like the demo button on a supermarket synthesiser; yet when the melody kicks in, you hear quite how skilled the whole operation is, and Alkan throughout is having a whale of a time - is that the opening tinkle of Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd in White Snake? Is that Yello in Bathroom Gurgle? With all its segues and depths, Fantasy Black Channel is completely unafraid of failure. --Daryl Easlea
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