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Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus

  by Lisa Torem

published: 6 / 5 / 2014



Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus
Label: KScope
Format: CD

intro

Challenging but both tongue-in-cheek and inventive solo concept album from Jethro Tull front man, Ian Anderson


As front man, multi-instrumentalist and major songwriter of Jethro Tull’s repertoire and as a solo artist, Ian Anderson changed the face of rock music with his stormy/evocative flute playing, use of complex meters and bold, thought-provoking lyrics. The “Prog Rock” style he commandeered back in the 1960s continues to be emulated today by indie and established artists. A self-contained musician, Anderson switches freely amongst acoustic guitar, the mandolin family and the aforementioned flute. Influenced by Indian, Persian, traditional British music and American jazz, Anderson’s rich compositions invite participation. To that end, he has frequently featured international artists as guests and has worked successfully with chamber/string quartets and full orchestras. On his new solo album, 'Homo Erraticus', the British artist’s gifts as storyteller and arranger fuse full throttle. The album is divided into three sections entitled: “Chronicles, Prophecies and Revelations.” In addition, Anderson cleverly resurrects his fictional sidekick, Gerald Bostock (whom you may remember as the “child prodigy” from the 'Thick as a Brick' days). After Bostock unearths a dusty copy of “amateur historian” Ernest T. Parritt’s manuscript about central events in British history, this amazing musical montage commences. The fifteen-track epic includes a lyric booklet and a tongue and cheek explanation of the recording project and why it came about by the - Who else? - Prog Rock cantor himself. The themes are systematically detailed, and, therefore, the album deserves several serious listening sessions. Overall, the inventive Anderson incorporates pseudo-rap, spoken word and litanies of metaphors and colourful images. Without standing on ceremony, the album opens with ‘Doggerland’. Vivacious bars of pure, prog rock laid the groundwork for sophisticated instrumental riffs dominated by John O’Hara’s organ and Florian Opahle’s electric guitar. In contrast, Anderson’s voice sounds almost cherubic. The landscape bursts alive with ancestrals “retreating ice and snow.” Then the gentle acoustics of ‘Heavy Metal’ echo Anderson’s undulating vocals. A subtle male choir and delicate percussion move the story along. The startling “Twilight Zone” beginning of ‘Enter the Uninvited’ hints that the tumultuous invasion of the Saxons, Danes and Normans approaches. Somehow Anderson comically connects the warriors with present day commercialism when he spews forth names of fast-food entities and post-WWII children’s’ toys. In ‘Puer Ferox Adventus (Wild Child Coming)', the birth of Christ prevails. “Words of Gospel and redemption, healing and exorcism” punctuate. Anderson’s falsetto is piercing and commanding. The rasping, riveting flute solo offers time for reflection in this seven-minute telling. In contrast, the short ‘Meliora Sequamur (Let Us Follow Better Things)' is delicate and fairy-like. The very psychedelic ‘The Turnpike Inn’ is every drinking man’s oasis and paves the way for the more cerebral and superbly arranged dynamics of ‘The Engineer’. It was a good choice to place ‘Tripudium Ad Bellum’ midway as it is the only instrumental and it features biting flute and throbbing guitars. ‘After These Wars’ is touching yet down-to-earth and visceral. “After these wars, when gentler winds were blowing/After these wars, when stocking tops were showing,” Anderson sings convincingly. The sleek, smooth and jazz-infused ‘New Blood, Old Veins’ expands the borders and brings us full circle to the acoustic pinings of ‘In for a Pound’. ‘The Browning of the Green’ could be the antidote to swarming masses of inner city breeders. “It’s the browning of the gree/We’ll be tight as canned sardine.” The last two songs consist of the contemporary ‘Per Errationes Ad Astra’ with its spoken word epiphanies and ‘Cold Dead Reckoning’, which examine the torrid plight of “the wandering man.” With its turbulent rhythms and rapid-fire progressions, Anderson’s fine voice and poetic images such as “in birthday suit, walk naked through the heavenly night…” receive splendid attention. Without a doubt, Anderson’s 'Homo Erraticus' is an excellent album lyrically, conceptually and sonically. For the die-hard Tull/Anderson fan, there’s a healthy nod to nostalgia in some of the acoustic arrangements and for the novice there are fresh and inspiring juxtapositions. But accolades must also be paid to players: John O’Hara (organ, keys, accordion), Florian Opahle (electric guitar), David Goodier (bass), Scott Hammond (drums) and Ryan O’Donnell (additional vocals), who crystallised this challenging concept album with nuance, virtuosity and respect.



Track Listing:-
1 Doggerland
2 Heavy Metals
3 Enter the Uninvited
4 Puer Ferox Adventus
5 Meliora Sequamur
6 The Turnpike Inn
7 The Engineer
8 The Pax Britannica
9 Tripudium Ad Bellum
10 After These Wars
11 New Blood, Old Veins
12 In for a Pound
13 The Browning of the Green
14 Per Errationes Ad Astra
15 Cold Dead Reckoning


Band Links:-
http://www.jethro-tull.com
https://www.facebook.com/officialjethrotull
https://twitter.com/jethrotull


Label Links:-
http://www.kscopemusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Kscopemusic
https://twitter.com/kscopemusic
https://www.youtube.com/user/kscopemusiclondon
https://www.burningshed.com/store/kscope/



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interviews


Interview (2015)
Ian Anderson - Interview
Lisa Torem speaks to multi-instrumentalist and composer Ian Anderson, who is bringing to life the story of namesake and industrialist Jethro Tull in a brand new rock opera
Interview (2014)
Interview (2013)


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