Album review by KevW
It's a challenge to get to grips with 'There And Back', the debut album from Red Cosmos. Essentially the work of one man, Kim Tortoise, the album seems to go on and on and on. Taking it all in in one sitting (without a toilet break at least) is quite exhausting because most songs go on a couple of minutes longer than is necessary. It's certainly sprawling and reasonably one-paced, which upon first listen makes it seem impenetrable and not particularly user friendly. Rather than an album, 'There And Back' is more a scrapbook of musical sketches, cuttings of ideas collected over time and then published as they are. As such it becomes a record to pick through rather than enjoy as a whole.
Plenty of time and effort has been put in, the songs are often complex and layered and samples pop up in unexpected places along with sounds from a smorgasbord of instruments. Too often though, this is a record that meanders aimlessly and although there are ideas in abundance, many of them fall short, and this isn't helped by vocals that have a default setting of bored and flat. That said, when things click they really do work and sporadic moments of brilliance are hidden amongst vast musical wasteland. The spooky vocal sample and stuttering beats of 'Iron Rush' for example, or the brilliant minor key, military dirge of 'England's Glory'.'You Said You Loved Me' is a great piece of downbeat psychedelic pop, but it falls into the trap of dragging its heels and simply going on for too long.
The theatrical interlude of 'Do Geese See God?' lightens the journey a little. Red Cosmos isn't short on innovation, that's for sure, what's needed it a helping hand with the quality control. Someone to say when enough is enough. Had 'There And Back' been edited down we could be looking at a modern psychedelic pop curio that many would fall for. Instead this is an over long and heavy going album that almost seems designed for the pick-and-choose download culture. Some truly wonderful music and a heck of a lot of truly average music, this is so close to being amazing that it probably doesn't realise it; difficult at first but for those hidden nuggets of gold, Red Cosmos is just about worth persevering with.
Red Cosmos's website
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