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Lonely Robot: Please Come Home

Don't be fooled by the band title, for Lonely Robot is actually the name of the first out and out solo offering from It Bites/Frost*/Arena/Kino man John Mitchell. His Please Come Home album a conceptual piece where a longing for companionship, or at least a more organic form of emotional contact than many daily routines really offer these days, illustrates where in this age of constant electronic communication, we are, arguably, losing the art of creating actual human connections.

Many, myself included, have noted a similarity in style between this album and Kino - and therefore to a lesser extent with Mitchell fronted It Bites; something none too surprising when you take into account how much of a writing force Mitchell was/is in those bands. However the concept employed here allows the singing guitarist to explore a slightly darker side than might be expected. That said, as ever, Mitchell and Lonely Robot always stay strictly on the accessible side of Prog, hooks and choruses far more prominent than any need to shout about unquestioned virtuosity. Please Come Home instead is an album of atmosphere and beauty, although the odd jagged edge of aggression also slips through. The best example of this is the track from which this project takes its name, "Lonely Robot" possibly the most overtly It Bites-like in structure, brash riffs and drums segueing into and out of chiming guitars and a live long in the memory chorus. While the wonderful duet, "Why Do We Stay", where Mitchell is joined by Heather Findlay, is a tender piece where a Peter Gabriel-Kate Bush feel is generated around dancing piano and melody.

Findlay isn't the only guest, with Steve Hogarth from Marillion providing - no not vocals! - piano on occasion, while the second female vocal appears courtesy of Touchstone's Kim Seviour on "Oubiette"; a song where keys combine with superb drumming from Craig Blundell. Seviour is on top form, utilising a deeper register than you might expect; losing none of her power in the process. However it is the way she and Mitchell (who while always disparaging towards his vocal abilities, is quite outstanding throughout) combine vocally which really makes this song as captivating as it is. However, possibly the biggest surprise arrives when Go West frontman Peter Cox appears to provide a superb vocal to "The Boy In The Radio". It's a wonderfully seductive piece of music but Cox nails the vocal 100%, adding a sharp edge through his immediately memorable contribution. In fact, I'd suggest that in terms of pitching and tone, Mitchell has used Cox as an inspiration for his own style… Amazingly 80s Pop is extremely well represented here, Cox joined by the ever in demand Nick Beggs and the ever under appreciated Nik Kershaw! Add in a guest slot from Jem Godfrey and really, while a true solo album, Please Come Home is a wonderful who's who of talent and diversity. More importantly it's a superb album, and dare I say it, possibly the best John Mitchell has had a hand in….

Track Listing
1. Airlock

2. God vs Man

3. The Boy In The Radio
4. Why Do We Stay?

5. Lonely Robot

6. A Godless Sea

7. Oubliette

8. Construct/Obstruct
9. Are We Copies?

10. Human Being

11. The Red Balloon

Added: May 7th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: John Mitchell on Facebook
Hits: 4101
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Lonely Robot: Please Come Home
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-05-07 18:52:26
My Score:

I cannot imagine the name John Mitchell not ringing a bell for most followers of progressive rock. The producer/guitarist/vocalist has had a major influence in a myriad of bands and/or projects including It Bites, Kino, Arena, The Urbane, Frost and Gandalf's Fist. His latest project is called Lonely Robot and the album is Please Come Home. Joining Mitchell on his latest adventure is Nick Beggs (bass) and Craig Blundell (drums). There are also quite a few guest artists including Steve Hogarth, Peter Cox, Heather Findley, Jem Godfrey, Nik Kershaw and Kim Seviour.

I have always been a fan of Mitchell, since I heard my first Arena album many years ago. He is a criminally underrated musician and the fact that his latest was written, mixed, mastered, recorded and produced by him demonstrates just how talented the man is.

Looking at the album cover (very cool by the way), the theme of space is not surprising. The crux of the concept involves how ancient civilizations like the Mayans and the Egyptians could not have possibly built the constructs they did without a little help from their friends, meaning extra-terrestrials.

I will say this right off the bat. Please Come Home will be one of my favourite discs of the year when compiling my 'best of' list. Mitchell has always had the knack for writing catchy tunes and he continues that here. Yes, there are melodic rock and pop flavourings throughout but I think many progressive music fans will really dig this as the musicianship and vocals are of such a high standard. Of course, there are many proggy moments as well, just in case you forgot you are listening to a progressive rock album.

Mitchell cements the concept together by using the narrative voice of Lee Ingleby which I think is done exceptionally well as it does not have an overbearing effect on the music but is just enough to deliver the underlying theme. Mitchell also revisits similar melodies throughout, making this a cohesive and incredibly balanced effort. Of course, Mitchell is first and foremost a guitarist and his soaring solos are etched into every track. His playing is the epitome of class as this music is more about atmosphere than technical wizardry.

Our epic journey begins with the atmospheric instrumental "Airlock" beginning with moody keys and piano before taking on more ominous tones. Intense rhythms and soaring guitar add some heaviness before the sounds of a baby's distorted and somewhat demented cry ends the tension.

"God vs Man" is an excellent rock/pop track with atmospheric keyboards, heavy riff progressions and Mitchell's melodic and warm vocal delivery.

One of the catchiest tunes is "The Boy In The Radio" which wouldn't sound that out of place on Sound Of Contact's Dimensionaut CD.

One of the best songs is the dynamic title track where shimmering keyboard lines, cool voice samples and slow builds morph into thick slabs of heavy progressive rock and gentler atmospheric parts. At times I was reminded of Floyd's Momentary Lapse Of Reason.

"A Godless Sea" is another excellent track with heavy atmospherics and soaring guitar. Again, the Dimensionaut album came to mind.

"Are We Copies" is another favourite transitioning between heavy prog and more textured atmospheres. The drumming of Blundell needs to be mentioned as his groove and tone are exceptionally tasty.

The last song, besides the three remixed tracks, is "The Red Balloon" with just Mitchell's voice supported by piano. It has to be the most poignant moment on the disc and provides a lovely end to our voyage.

Please Come Home should cement Mitchell as one of the leading players in modern progressive rock and it is, for lack of a better word, outstanding. Released on InsideOut Music.

» Reader Comments:

Lonely Robot: Please Come Home
Posted by Karl Jones on 2015-02-22 11:32:03
My Score:

Liked his work with It Bites and was looking forward to this, but found it hard to listen to. The many different vocalists add to it sounding somewhat disjointed and the songs aren't that good. Only my opinion.

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