Violin-biased albums still in short supply, Scattered Planets "Viperess" Cyndee Lee Rule breaks away to indulge her innermost electric desires with a robust debut that boasts enough variety for your average Sunday post-church picnic. And that's not all: UFOsmosis is quietly a trio album, with two-thirds of Systems Theory — Steven Davies-Morris and Greg Amov — onboard to lend their technical and compositional expertise. Of the eleven compositions, two are traditional pieces arranged by Rule and two are covers of well-known vintage rock gems; the remaining seven see Davies-Morris or Amov (on one track, both) share the writing credit. All three contributed alternately in the areas of melodic and textural treatments; Davies-Morris took on the venerable task of mixing. The outcome is a variably alloyed gumbo of styles in a single volley — under a Daevid Allen illustration — that's almost too exhaustive for its own good.
"Putting The Rip In Strip" was an early preview track that you could liken to a store brand vitamin: considering the dosage, the bulk of its potency is likely excreted before it is metabolized. In a nutshell, the track proclaims Cyndee Lee's proficiency on electric violin, shrill tones aplenty firing off from her 5-string Viper like showers of sparks. The Viper tends to overwhelm very quickly; rhythm tracks — all synthetic, on this outing — are at its mercy. In the end "Strip" resembles more of a post-produced jam than a preconceived work. "Congress Reel," a traditional, is instantly enjoyable: a cleaner tone is employed and the hi-speed lead is melodic and jubilant; the uptempo drumtrack is buttressed by outrageously fast fills; a harsher tone is dialed for the solo. Lots of fun. "As Go The Moments" reminds me of Joe Jackson, for some reason; it's a more laidback piece that explores the fringe sectors left by a chillout-space rock overlap. The second half is the more interesting, but the various sonic "hues" don't enjoy the separation they're due. Otherwise, well done. "The Inner Light" and "Scarborough Fair" are covers, the former by a renowned Harrison (not Ford), the latter an antique. While trying not to sound overly critical, with regard to "Fair" the Viper's aggression is overemphasized and the mix too grainy, too hazy — with a noticeably truncated ending — for it to be done justice. It's no secret that the parties involved reside on opposite coasts, though, and the Net helped to make UFOsmosis a reality.
Yes, the disc has a mini-epic, the full collaboration titled "Seven Cities Of Gold." Nine minutes in length, this is a nicely atmospheric, lush portrait that is mildly romantic, adequately exotic, and sonorously topped off (not to mention well-mixed). Electric violin is complemented by multi-tracked acoustic guitar (wonderful) and synthetic treatments that coalesce in said vibe (the second violin solo is splendid). "Assassins Of Allah" is a rendition of the Hawkwind staple, modeled on violinist Simon House's motif — another solid execution but it's quickly forgotten by what comes after it. For this reviewer, the album's last twenty-odd minutes are the most interesting, beginning with (arguably) the two best cuts, back-to-back. "Weekend Affair" is the sort of smooth, slick exercise guys like Jan Hammer, Harold Faltermeyer or even Richard Burmer tackled in the '80s, when an ever-shifting synthesizer scene was on the cusp of handing the reins over to the new digital models of the day by Roland, Korg and Yamaha. Analog pads would yield thick pads and surreal timbres, and a new icy cool digital tone lacking in harmonics would slice through the soundscape like a laser; often enough these tonal hybrids sounded rich. That's not exactly what's happening here, but the character of the track, from the opening Rhodes-like samples to the surging string sound to the "dance floor" drum pattern, recalls what was going on back then. The manic violin lead has a suspiciously "jigsaw" ring to it, but this is a clever trick. On cue, "What On Earth?" merges Greg Amov's Berlin School affectations — that almost sounds like Chris Franke circa 1982 — to the Viper's curiously murky attack, while "Telekinetigram" tackles trance. "Something I Should Have Said" is a sweet six-minute resolution, and my remarks concerning "Weekend Affair" carry over. The last third of UFOsmosis is easily the strongest.
In addition to violin instruction and semi-regular gigging with husband-guitarist Jeff Nutkowitz in Scattered Planets, and the odd live tour along the order of Nik Turner or Thee Maximalists, Cyndee Lee Rule's skills will quickly resurface on the forthcoming Systems Theory endeavor, Codetalkers. For now, kick your shoes off, sit back and enjoy a weekend affair with knee-high leather boots.
1. Putting The Rip In Strip (7:17)
2. Congress Reel (2:47)
3. As Go The Moments (6:24)
4. The Inner Light (2:34)
5. Scarborough Fair (2:48)
6. Seven Circles Of Gold (9:06)
7. Assassins Of Allah (4:21)
8. Weekend Affair (6:16)
9. What On Earth? (6:29)
10. Telekinetigram (4:50)
11. Something I Should Have Said (6:03)
Total time – 59:20