23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
, 14 April 2014
This review is from: Homo Erraticus (Deluxe) (Audio CD)
In his 67th year, Ian Anderson stubbornly refuses to rest on his laurels and bask in past glories. `Homo Erraticus' is a remarkable piece of work: original, lyrical, thoughtful, musically sophisticated with excellent sound and production values, a storyboard weaving together many narrative strands to entertain and delight.
The first impression you'll receive from the CD/DVD package is that a great deal of thought and care has gone into this project: a quality, classy product greets you which respects the audience's intelligence and likely aesthetic sensibilities. The 32-page insert containing explanatory essays and all the song lyrics artistically laid out in sequence is a minor literary masterpiece on its own, and takes a good hour to read through and digest. The album tells a themed story of human colonization of the British Isles (which began, according to archaeological records, 800,000 years ago). Anderson begins in `Doggerland' with the continental land bridge at the end of the last ice age; the narrative then skips over the bronze and iron ages to `Enter the Uninvited' which quickly runs through all the influences which came in from outside:
"Angles, Saxons, Danes and Normans
On the whole a curve of learning,
...Willie Conker, work cut out, in Domesday pages marks our number...
Sheep and pigs amongst the hundreds,
Fat tithes and taxes to encumber"
All the way to:
"Bubble gum and google-bum, Facebook-frenzied social network
Apple mac and i-Phone App, Gibson,
Fender sonic fretwork..."
The music underpinning this poetic lyrical narrative is as unique and engaging as we have come to expect from Anderson in his more mature years. Supported by the capable professional musical talents of John O'Hara, David Goodier, Florian Opahle, Ryan O'Donnell and Scott Hammond, mixed by Jakko Jakszyk and produced by Anderson himself the result is a seamless amalgam of catchy melodies, syncopated jazz rhythms, driving rock sections and odd time-signatures interwoven with trad English folk-idioms and references to other world-music styles. The result however is much greater than the parts, a unified style like no other: this is music for thinking people.
Anderson's lyrical writing has always been good but now occupies a territory rare in popular music: it stands as poetry which may be simply read aloud, communicates complex ideas with great economy of language, is clever and witty. Delivered over the music, the result is a rewarding and satisfying experience, joyous in a way that only good art can be.
The DVD includes the whole album accompanied by imagery and poetic lyrical insets; the music in 24/48 stereo and in DTS 5.1 Surround; and a thoughtful filmed interview with Anderson on the making of the album where he reveals:
"Writing songs for me is a terror...rather than waiting for the muse to turn up, you sometimes have to go out on a blind date and meet it halfway..."
"What the album is all about is people going places, learning from the experience, evaluating something that you didn't know about before and benefiting - hopefully - as a consequence"
Exploring the possibility of imminent environmental catastrophe ("The Browning of the Green"), `Homo Erraticus' is ultimately optimistic about the ability of we humans to find a way out, to avert disaster, maybe even discover a new Eden.
This is such a refreshing change from the pap which passes for popular music these days; the maturity and intelligence of `Homo Erraticus' may outlast even the best of Jethro Tull's glory years. If you like your music to be crafted for thinking people, give it a listen - or two. Chance is you'll get to like it.
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