Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5
Although still sporting the name of The Moles on the cover, this is really a Richard Davies solo album as the rest of the band is no longer around. Davies was very much the leader of the proper band, but without the rest of the group, the sound here is extremely different. The garage-psych wildness of Untune The Sky has been replaced by much higher production values and baroque arrangements.
Even more notable is Davies completely fractured, yet masterful songwriting on this short album. There is still a great deal of pop to the melodies, but the songs here are completely unpredictable, constantly lurching in strange directions and displaying an almost total lack of logic. These tracks really seem to have been beamed in from a neighboring dimension. It can be a little off-putting at first, but it's never less than fascinating. All the song elements are familiar (no particularly cosmic sounds or studio trickery here), but they're all ordered and recombined on totally unfamiliar ways.
The album opens with a dirge-like horn arrangement, and nothing but drum fills for a rhythm track on "Minor Royal Charge." Lyrically, this is equally strange as Davies admonishes us to "drink until you're blind, and you'll sing like Ray Charles."
Still rhymically skittering, and almost threatening sounding is the "rocker" "Already In Black." It a musical iteration of Hunter Thompson's observation that "you can turn your back on a man, but you can't turn your back on a drug." Davies is rocking out with no linear sense of logic.
If there's a flaw here, it that the songwriting is so disorienting that it's sometimes hard to keep track of what's going on a grabbing the bits that emerge from the baroque ocean. Maybe this helps explain why the album is only 23 minutes long. "The Crasher," as in party crasher, closes the disc with a return of the horns, a touch of buzzing guitars, and just a few moments of a groovy party beat.
I really haven't heard another album like this one, even from Richard Davies. It's like taking the random, unpredictable sound of Skip Spence's solo album Oar, and handing them over to a scientist intent on working the sound theory into some complicated quantum law. Nevermind the 1994 date, this belongs at the top of any pile of psychedelia.
The Moles - 1994 - Instinct