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Spirits Burning & Michael Moorcock: An Alien Heat

Although he is best known as a highly respected and huge selling science fiction/fantasy author, Michael Moorcock also fronts his own progressive band, The Deep Fix. However, for the musical reworking of his An Alien Heat novel, which is part of his The Dancers At The End Of Time trilogy, Moorcock has teamed up with Spirits Burning, an outfit led by American producer Don Falcone and founding member of Blue Öyster Cult, drummer Albert Bouchard.

In many ways that introduction sells the personnel on this record short, the list of collaborations all those involved have built up covering two thirds of the inside cover of the CD booklet! It’s an impressive roll call, but let’s just mention that there are numerous members of the Hawkwind and Blue Öyster Cult families in evidence alongside associates of Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, The Damned, The Groundhogs, Camper Van Beethoven, The Dictators and Clearlight.

With that covered, you won’t be too surprised to know that we’re in the realms of space based prog rock, nor that the musicianship on show is exceptional. And I’d love to continue by telling you that the music follows in suite, but in truth, An Alien Heat maybe takes too much from its title and lyrical content. Hence, much though you can hear an inner beauty and strangely alien heart in this album, at no point do things ever really invite you in to this world. The likes of “Any Particular Interest” unveils a deep, dark, brooding riff and enigmatic clavinet mood, while “Thank You For The Fog” does a quite wonderful job of fusing the worlds of Floyd and Genesis, where shimmering atmospheres meet dancing, off kilter melodies. However, no matter whether it’s Bouchard, Falcone or indeed Moorcock who take on the vocals, the lifeless delivery at best evokes a downbeat, almost disinterested mood and at worst simply rumble along without making any real mark at all. With the CD booklet more interested in detailing exactly who is playing what on which song, the concept of the piece is left entirely in the hands of the singers and as such fails to get its message across as you swiftly lose interest in the words being sung.

Musically things can be equally dreary, nearly all of the movements given a slow, decidedly deliberate feel that you suspect is meant to allow the lyrics to take centre stage. But in the end it just leaves the likes of “Quest For Bromley”, “Back To 1896” and “To Steal A Space” to come across as dull and lifeless. The last of those tracks does look to infuse a little more vigour into proceedings but even here it’s difficult to truly get under the skin of what feels like an overly engineered set.

Maybe I went into this album with expectation levels too high, but where I’m left is no further forward as to what An Alien Heat is meant to reveal both musically and thematically. Possibly if you are a follower of Moorcock’s literary works or are more acquainted with Spirits Burning then you’ll dismiss my thoughts as having missed the point. As it is however, this is an album I can’t see myself visiting ever again.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!


Track Listing
1. Hothouse Flowers
2. Geronimo
3. Soirée Of Fire
4. In The Future
5. Doomed
6. Fall In Love
7. Any Particular Interest
8. Dark Dominion
9. Seven Finger Solution
10. To Steal Space Traveller
11. Virtue & Mrs Amelia Underwood
12. Learning The Art
13. Back To 1896
14. Quest For Bromley
15. Thank You For The Fog
16. Old Friends With New Faces

Added: November 17th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: An Alien Heart online
Hits: 215
Language: english

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Spirits Burning & Michael Moorcock: An Alien Heat
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-11-17 14:25:39
My Score:

Here we have a musical interpretation of fantasy/science fiction writer Michael Moorcock's novel An Aline Heart featuring Moorcock, who has also dabbled in rock music quite a bit over the years with Hawkwind as well as his own band The Deep Fix. On this opus, he's teamed up with current & former members of Blue Oyster Cult, most notably Albert Bouchard, who co-wrote most of the songs and performs on many of the tracks, Hawkwind, and of course Spirits Burning, who are led by multi-instrumentalist/producer Don Falcone.

Things get off to a good start with "Hothouse Flowers", which has a decidedly BOC feel thanks to the unmistakeable vocals of none other than Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser, and the music has a similar feel, part hard rock, part prog. Things pretty much take a dive after that, with the bulk of the album then caving into a laid back mish-mash of world music, folk, uninspired prog, and groove laden space rock. "Dark Dominion" is fun, with some cool synths and layers of vocals, as is "To Steal a Space Traveler", the musicians obviously succeeding better when trying to tackle upbeat, Hawkwind styled space rock. Vocally, the album is pretty much a mess, Bouchard clearly not meant to be a lead singer to carry the bulk of this project, nor is Moorcock any help with the backing vocals. In fact, other than Roeser's brief appearance, it's current BOC member Ritchie Castellano and his wife Anne Marie who put in the best performances on the vocal front, teaming up with great results on the dreamy "Quest for Bromley".

Ah, what could have been...An Alien Heat comes across as a modern version of Imaginos, but nowhere near as successful. There's just not much to recommend here- the performances are fairly listless, the vocals for the most part are equally as uninspiring, and in the end, this is just a boring and lifeless affair. Considering the all-star cast, this should have been so much better.



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