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Lonely Robot: Under Stars

We were promised three Lonely Robots and now we have that trio, Under Stars completing a loose conceptual trilogy of albums from one time It Bites, sometime Kino and current Arena and Frost* guitarist and singer John Mitchell. In Lonely Robot he does pretty much everything else too, although Craig Blundell (Stevens Wilson and Hackett, no less) suggests he might be rather good behind a drum kit and Steve Vantsis (Fish) leaves the impression, on occasion here that he might have a future as a bassist, although Mitchell plays some too. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, then dive on in to the music and feast, feast, feast, for Under Stars is another crowning achievement in a catalogue that contains an embarrassment of riches for us all to enjoy - or it would if more people had cottoned on to it!

This time the Robot, who appears to actually be a human astronaut, is searching for reality within reality, wondering how we all got lost in a forest of antisocial socialising and hunting for truths in a media-less medium. As ever, Mitchell is using a space based fancy to look down upon us and shake his head - and he’s right. How did we get here? Do you feel like you belong? I certainly don’t… However, I feel right at home in the world of Lonely Robot, a singular being yearning for a life that can no longer be found and that we seem to be cashing in on a daily basis for fistfuls of glittering beans from which no beanstalks will sprout. Please come home Lonely Robot…

Although he may deny it Mitchell’s singing voice is a beckoning call and with some beautifully eighties synth sounds “Icarus” soars for the sky with little care of consequence, although the lasting impression you’re left with is an uplifting, if searching, melody and chorus. The keyboard work throughout is supreme and the guitars bite in deep without ever becoming overbearing. “The Only Time I Don’t Belong is Now” washes into being with the sound of water lapping on the shore, but a bleeping key-interruption sets the scene for a plaintive guitar to jostle with off kilter drum descents and one of those building passages that Mitchell has become synonymous with over recent years.

Melancholic and contained “How Bright Is The Sun” confounds by becoming the most memorable moment on the journey, a cannily crafted construction giving glimpses of hope in an intentionally bleak landscape that still somehow becomes welcoming. Here it’s the guitar solo that sears into the soul and drips with passion, whereas on “Ancient Ascendant” it’s the conglomeration of constituent parts that causes the crescendo.

Subtly pulling themes and ideas from song to song and even album to album during this trilogy, we slowly build into the tale’s conclusion, “Inside This Machine” a glorious instrumental that seems to offer a solution to the questions asked across this set of outings. And yet, as “An Ending” enigmatically continues to plead the Lonely Robot to come home and highlight the beauty he contains within, the words of hope are still a question, a challenge even, to look inside and see what we are and what we have and not to let go of it quite as eagerly as society now tells us we should…

…please come home Lonely Robot.

Track Listing
1. Terminal Earth
2. Ancient Ascendant

3. Icarus

4. Under Stars

5. Authorship Of Our Lives

6. The Signal

7. The Only Time I Don’t Belong Is Now

8. When Gravity Fails

9. How Bright Is The Sun?

10. Inside This Machine

11. An Ending

Added: May 19th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Lonely Robot online
Hits: 990
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Lonely Robot: Under Stars
Posted by Molly Whipple on 2021-06-30 00:48:14
My Score:

Lonely Robot recordings tend to be well produced, atmospheric pieces that come off a little cold to me. This is possibly the best of the three efforts I've heard, but I'm still not entirely on board with this approach. If you like soundscapes as much as melody and leads this might be for you. Investigate at your own risk, little robots.

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