LONELY ROBOT – Under Stars [Limited Digipak +3] (2019)
While always very busy, the It Bites front man, Frost* and Arena guitarist and of course solo artist John Mitchell has still found time to release a diverting trilogy of albums since 2015 under the LONELY ROBOT moniker. This new album “Under Stars” released today completes the series, and sees the protagonist, The Astronaut, continue his disorientating journey from the stratosphere back down to terra firma, with a certain amount of both earthly and cosmic wisdom gleaned en route.
Mitchell’s love for sci-fi soundtracks and futuristic ambience is clearly evident on the opening instrumental, a spacey, symphonic piece that wouldn’t sound out of place on a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The use of distorted radio-esque vocals and robot voices has become a bit of a prog cliché, but they add to the sense of disorientation and make for an austere, inhuman counterpoint to the powerful emotional pull of the big anthemic choruses that swell up in awesome waves elsewhere.
There are jarring passages of thunderous prog metal riffing to add a forbidding sense of uncertainty to proceedings on ‘Ancient Ascendant’ and ‘When Gravity Fails’, then ‘Authorship Of Our Lives’ has an irresistible keyboard motif and an insistent hook, while the descending chords and elegiac power balladry of ‘The Only Time I Don’t Belong Is Now’ and the title track are enhanced by some breathtaking guitar work.
And ‘How Bright Is The Sun?’ is a thing of beauty, floating in on blissed out piano to tell us ‘we’ve come too far from home to fall’.
“Under Stars” is prog rock with brains (or a chip?). It’s as well accessible to all listeners, melodic, and captivating.
This is John Mitchell’s guitar, John Mitchell’s voice, John Mitchell’s keyboards, John Mitchell’s composition and his unique production. It’s John Mitchell sum of talents, and co-pilots Craig Blundell (Pendragon, Frost*, Steven Wilson) and Steve Vantsis (Fish) consistently bolster what the Maestro is doing.
You should not miss out on the last elliptical orbit of this trilogy, because John Mitchell is a star that apparently never fails to shine.
01. Terminal Earth
02. Ancient Ascendant
04. Under Stars
05. Authorship Of Our Lives
06. The Signal
07. The Only Time I Don’t Belong Is Now
08. When Gravity Fails
09. How Bright Is The Sun?
10. Inside This Machine
11. An Ending
12. How Bright Is The Sun? (Cosmic Mix)
13. Under Stars (Cosmic Mix)
14. Lonely Robot – Chapter One – Airlock
John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*, Arena) – vocals, guitars, keys
Craig Blundell (Pendragon, Frost*, Steven Wilson) – drums
Steve Vantsis (Fish) – bass
Liam Holmes – add keyboards
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