Ian Anderson – Homo Erraticus – New Release

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Ian Anderson’s new album, Homo Erraticus, is out today, according to his website. According to iTunes, it comes out tomorrow. Today, tomorrow, whenever it is, this is a must have album. I have had a chance to listen to it a couple of times over the past few days, and I am thoroughly impressed. Ian Anderson proves, yet again, that he is a master of modern cultural critique. He is not just some old guy playing music. He is clearly aware of the world of today, and he does a masterful job of commenting on it in a humorous way.

I wish I could give you a full review of the album right now, but professors have this strange policy of wanting papers turned in on time. Weird, right? Briefly, the album covers basically all of British history, from Roman times, through today, and predictions for the future. Ian Anderson and company (which is essentially Jethro Tull, just not called that because of the absence of Martin Barre) wonderfully meld together history with cultural critique. I particularly enjoyed the backhanded reference to his son-in-law, who plays the lead role in the hit AMC TV show, Walking Dead.

The line up for the band is the same as it was on Thick as a Brick 2: Ian Anderson (vocals, flute, acoustic guitar), David Goodier (bass), John O’Hara (keyboards and accordion), Florian Opahle (guitar), Scott Hammond (drums), and Ryan O’Donnell (backing vocals). I noticed that they lowered the key of the music, so Ian Anderson sounds a lot better on this album than he did on TAAB2. O’Donnell also provides excellent backing vocals, sometimes singing lead. The instrumentation is amazing, as you would expect from anything produced by Ian Anderson. I am even more astounded by Florian Opahle’s guitar playing. As my friend and fellow progarchist, Connor Mullin, pointed out to me, his style of playing is more akin to King Crimson than it is to Martin Barre. This is not all that surprising considering Opahle toured with Greg Lake before joining Ian Anderson. His playing is simply fantastic.

In the end, Homo Erraticus should certainly be added to any prog rock collection. Ian Anderson has proved that you are never too old to rock and roll.

http://jethrotull.com/ian-andersons-homo-erraticus-now-available-to-pre-order

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/homo-erraticus/id842600703

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13 thoughts on “Ian Anderson – Homo Erraticus – New Release

  1. While it doesn’t repeat the magic of ‘TAAB2’ (or ‘TAAB’ either, of course, haha), it is still another stellar effort, I must say. Once again, the man produces an album that is just so memorable and so full of character; he’s a songwriting wizard, which is why he should never stop making music, even in the face of old age and the growing limitations that it brings.

    And I absolutely agree with what you said about Florian Opahle’s playing. I didn’t really take much notice of it when I first heard the album, because a lot of his parts weren’t very prominent in the mix (and I was multi-tasking at the time, thus not taking much notice), but, upon repeat listens, I can confidently say that my mind was quite truly blown.

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    1. bryanmorey94

      Hayden, if you ever get the opportunity to see Ian Anderson live, do so. I saw him twice on the TAAB2 tour, and I was blown away by Opahle’s playing live. For such a young man, he masterfully blends so many different influences while still creating something that is unique. He is certainly underrated.

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      1. Believe me, I’ll seize the opportunity if it ever comes along!

        I actually got excited a few weeks ago when my Bandsintown app informed me that he was coming to a ‘venue near me’. I was disappointed to find, upon further investigation, that the glitchy app had confused Perth, Western Australia with Perth in the UK. Le sigh.

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      2. Bruce K.

        At the risk of being negative here … the guitar parts are very similar to what has gone before … which tells me that a lot of Martin’s Barre’s guitar genius came from Ian Anderson. Certainly Martin is a good guitarist, bordering on great, or perhaps truly great, but he has yet to put out an album on his own or music of his own that is not encased in Jethro Tull/Ian Anderson. Those two facts say to me that most of the writing and lyrics have and are coming from Ian Anderson and that Ian is responsible for a lot of what the JT/IA guitar players do.

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  2. Bruce K.

    I am still making sense of this album, but so far it is much better than TAAB2, which I found brief, trite and not really worthy of the name TAAB, let alone the branding of Jethro Tull, thus it was an Ian Anderson project … which I though was not right to leave Martin out.

    This album is more serious and sensible and about more interesting things. The themes are more serious, the music structure is more serious. I also like that Ian has given over part of the singing to Ryan O’Donnel who does a very good job and sound a lot like a younger Ian.

    I am still trying to find the lyrics though since I bought the album on MP3. A lot of religious church-like themes, which is more reminiscent of Jethro Tull from Aqualing and TAAB time, and give it a more authentic feel than TAAB2 which to me was really broken with only two real good songs.

    Already I like “Enter The Univited”, “Cold Dead Reckoning” and “Browning Of The Green” very much. This is a good album … even if it does lean a bit heavily on a connection to “The Walking Dead” and “Officer Rick”.

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    1. I’m still in the process of listening to it. I can appreciate it as a technical achievement, yes, but so far what leaps out at me is the lack of memorable melodies. Such a stark contrast to Jethro Tull, and even to Anderson’s previous solo material.

      Secondly, it is very difficult to understand what he is singing. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a non-metal album on which the lyrics are quite so hard to make out. In live performance I venture to guess that no one who is unfamiliar with the album will understand a single word, especially given how lost in the mix Anderson’s live vocals typically are.

      I very much liked TAAB2. It took a while to appreciate what was there, but I think there are definitely more than two good songs.

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      1. bryanmorey94

        Tom, thanks so much for commenting. It is interesting that you mention how it is difficult to understand what he is singing. It seems to me that that was always a staple of Jethro Tull’s albums, and it always seemed to be part of the folksy charm. As Anderson has grown older and his voice has changed, it has certainly become more pronounced. I did find the lyrics on “After These Wars” to be rather clear, but I did have trouble understanding much of the album.

        One of the more memorable melodies of the album is the flute part from “Enter the Uninvited,” which is repeated again towards the end of the album.

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      2. Bruce K.

        This album is like a puzzle in away. Several songs have the same melodies, or themes. There is the theme from “Enter The Univited” and then theme from “The Browning Of The Green” and they meet in interesting complex, but sometimes clumsy ways in the other songs.

        Ian, or the record company released the “Enter The Uninvited” preview on You-Tube and after playing it I thought … ugh. This is so noisy and simple and hard to understand … save for the lyrics that were CC’ed in the video. After two or three playings I found myself starting to hum the theme and coming back for more.

        That is the Tull/Ian I remember, a kind of unfamiliar tentatively every time they/he would release a new album, and how the music often sounded dry, and hard to hear, with few solos. This album is much like that. The things I see different about it are

        1. The vocals are kind of hard to hear. The mixing seems weird, which some Jethro Tull albums do sound like that. I can’t wait for the lyrics to get posted somewhere.

        2. The songs and melodies are related. Maybe that is what Ian means when he calls this a concept album. or maybe it could be cover for him running out of melodic lines. But I don’t think so, listening to this I start to make sense of it and what seems awkward and noisy soon has me tapping my feet to it, if not stomping.

        3. This is hardly a hard rock album, but there are, as always, different passages and kinds of music. I think I notice a lot of sort of “church music” in this album, like themes from hymns or something, fortified by being backgrounded and played by an organ.

        4. What I really did not care for in TAAB2 was the lyric themes, the overall negative and dreary aspects of many of the songs. That “Give Til It Hurts” thing was a prime example, it was awful. Jethro Tull or Ian Anderson never used to have these kinds of irritating interruptions in the music like this before. There is one in this album talking about the trip to the moon and humans moving out in the space … but these ideas seem trite to me having read and thought a lot about them for decades. Not sure what Ian is trying to do here except fill up space.

        5. Ian talks in interviews about the ideas he is dealing with in his music, like it is super-intellectual. Well, and maybe it is compared to most music, but I don’t find a lot of intelligent stuff in it. A prime early example was a song I liked, but that was trite in the same way, “Jack In The Green” … and the cliche line “grass growing through the pavement today”.

        Then Ian’s sort of pandering to the “Walking Dead”, his son-in-law, Andrew Lincoln’s television show. The lines about this are from what I can hear so far are a bit vapid.

        Still, the music thrills me as I start to discern order in it. Ian is trying to master the fugue form of mixing two themes sort of randomly it seems.

        Again, going back to TAAB2 for a second, I like much of the music and themes, but it was the downer lyrics and the pointlessness of the album that put me off it. I like “Shunt And Shuffle” which has a cool rythym and theme to it … but it is less than 2 minutes long, and “A Change Of Horses” reminds me of “Bombay Valentine” on the “Divinties” album, but it has words that the words seem to have a point … something most of the TAAB2 album is lacking.

        I also don’t care for Ian’s use of Gerald Bostock … what he thinks he is doing with that just seems goofy to me. Why doesn’t he come out and just say what he means, unless he is so afraid that he might be perceived as a right-wing looney he would lose many of his dreaded hippie fans??? 😉

        Ian is a character, and now from what I read in an interview somewhere, Jethro Tull, is a closed off avenue of his life, and I guess Martin’s too. It sounded like Ian really hated the name Jethro Tull, and all this time has been trying to dig himself out from under it, while also scheming to leverage what it means to others in the form of marketing to sell “product” … and that would be my biggest criticism of Ian and JT … they lost their spontaneity and fun. You can see it in the videos … in the early videos they were all smiling and having a good time, and then somewhere when it became an Ian Anderson corporation everyone is so forced. A bit of a tribute that they were all able to fake it for so long.

        It’s pretty clear lots of people love Jethro Tull and now Ian Anderson is trying to see after all this time if he can wean people over to him personally. He is clearly a quirky guy, but I really like his/their music all these years, and I’m glad to have more that I can wrap my ears about and enjoy. Much better than TAAB2 which just seemed like marketing hype – it has nothing to do with TAAB.

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  4. Pingback: Album Review: Ian Anderson, “Homo Erraticus” | Revolutions Per Minute

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