The Bunnymen’s METEORITES Streaming Now

echo-and-the-bunnymen-meteoritesFor some one of my age (46), it’s very hard not to trap Echo and the Bunnymen in the best memories of my youth.

From 1980 to 1984, the band produced four classic albums in a row, the best of which was HEAVEN UP HERE.  Their self-titled album of 1987 was ok, but nothing spectacular.  In 1990, with a new singer, Echo released an album that has stood the test of time rather well.  Though it’s simply not Echo and the Bunnymen, REVERBERATION is a really catchy pop-rock album with a lot of neo-psychadelia.  REVERBERATION, still, is better than anything else Echo has released post-OCEAN RAIN.

In 1997, Echo reformed with Ian McCulloch once again taking lead vocals.  Everything Echo has produced since 1997 has been unsatisfying, an Echo of an Echo with momentary flashes of brilliance.

The new album, METEORITES, slated to come out in four days, is good but not astounding.  Maybe this is simply my fault, my failure to appreciate all that is currently Echo.  I very much want the Echo of my youth–angry, hard edged, nasty, lush, claustrophobic, and angular.

METERORITES is, as I just noted, good but not astounding.  It’s a safe and nice return to the late 1980s without causing any problems and without taking any serious chances.  What saddens me, though, is that the album is on the edge of astounding.  A different producer, a different engineer, a different some one (as Rush has down with their last several albums) might have made METEORITES spectacular.

As McCulloch has recently said, METEORITES is a concept album.  And, so it seems to be.  There’s a lot of discussion of religion, especially historical religion.  I’m just not sure what it all means.  Still, Echo was always best when combining elements of hard rock and prog with pop sensibilities.

McCulloch’s voice is excellent and the same can be said of Sargeant’s guitar work.  But, again, it’s all so safe.  The bass and the drums are bland, and, thus, an essential part of Echo seems missing.

The Guardian is streaming the entire album, and you can judge for yourself before buying it.  After listening, I’ve decided not to purchase it.  I know I would only listen to it a few times, but then I would forget about it, relegating it to mere un-accessed space on my hard drive.

If you’re looking for the best of Echo, you must return to the band’s past: CROCODILES (1980); HEAVEN UP HERE (1981); PORCUPINE (1983); and OCEAN RAIN (1984).  These four albums rank as four of the best in the rock era.  Additionally, as Pete Blum has recently argued, the best modern Echo is to be found in Sergeant and Patterson’s prog band, Poltergeist.

Things Inside: Discovering Will Sergeant

If you are of a certain age, you will probably be most familiar with Will Sergeant as guitarist and founder member of Liverpool legends Echo & The Bunnymen. Their classic album Ocean Rain became a particular favourite of mine during my student days in the mid 80s and I still consider it one of the best releases of that period.

But Will has not limited his musical horizons to the Bunnymen; he has worked on other projects over the past couple of years and discovering them has been one of 2013’s unexpected pleasures for me.

Back in January, Will and fellow Bunnyman Les Pattinson formed a new band called Poltergeist and announced a PledgeMusic campaign to fund production of their debut album. That album, entitled Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder), appeared as a download for pledgers in March and had a worldwide release in June.  According to Will,

We create a form of rock music with its toes paddling in the progressive ocean foam of the sixties and seventies and its head in the bone dry air of the present day.

Your Mind Is A Box is a splendid slice of instrumental prog/post-rock that deserves a place in my Best Of 2013 list, being denied that right solely due only to the incredible strength and depth of this year’s album releases. Fans of The Fierce & The Dead and their ilk should definitely give this a listen.

In September, Will launched another PledgeMusic campaign, this time for a new album from occasional project Glide. This resulted in the release of Assemblage One & Two at the start of November. Glide is a quite different beast to Poltergeist, drawing inspiration from the 1970s electronica of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Will describes the project thus:

It is an unashamed self indulgent venture. I see nothing wrong with being self indulgent. In my view all art of any worth is built on self indulgence. From the first stroke of a brush, word of literature, note of an instrument or strike of the chisel against the cold stone or wood. The only person that a true artist should be aiming to please should be himself. If you start worrying about what the people may say about the work it is immediately compromised and is a dead duck. So I walk alone once more through electronic landscape for only one reason: I like it there.

Well I like it too, Will: as a devoted fan of early to mid-period TD, I like it very much indeed! The two tracks from Assemblage – clocking in at truly proggy lengths of 19:34 and 22:28, respectively – are hypnotic and utterly absorbing, evoking the spirit of this genre’s German pioneers superbly.

Last week I was privileged to attend a play-through of Assemblage One & Two by Will, in the planetarium at Liverpool’s World Museum. The computer-projected visuals of planets, stars and galaxies were the perfect mind-expanding accompaniment to the music. Will had a small merch desk at the event, so I took a punt on a CD of his from 2012, called Things Inside – and I am so glad I did!

Things Inside – available as a CD or as a download – is another instrumental album, but one quite different in tone from the work produced by the Poltergeist and Glide projects. For one thing, it is almost entirely acoustic. Instruments used include acoustic guitars, ukulele, melodica, vibraphone, hammered dulcimer, celeste, auto harp, Schoenhut toy piano, acoustic bass, flute, french horn and wind chimes! I’ve only listened to it a couple of times, but I’m already loving it.

It’s wonderful when an artist known for one particular style of music reveals a hidden side, a more broad-ranging creativity than you were expecting. Here’s hoping there is more to come from ‘Sergeant Fuzz’ in 2014!


I wonder if any fellow Progarchists have been taking an interest in the Poltergeist project over at PledgeMusic?

This involves Will Sergeant and Les Pattinson, the original guitarist and bassist, respectively, of Echo & The Bunnymen. They’ve ‘gone prog’ (or prog/post-rock, from what I’ve heard) and are recording an album called Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder).

Will has just posted some interesting reflections on his prog/punk roots – although you’ll need to pledge to read them, I’m afraid!

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