Flying Saucer Attack - Instrumentals - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Flying Saucer Attack - Instrumentals

by Hayden Harman Rating:8 Release Date:2015-07-17

Fifteen years is a long time. It’s probable that 15 years ago I was listening to Smash Mouth or hearing The Beatles for the first time (to maintain credibility, I really hope it was the latter).

English space-rockers Flying Saucer Attack released their last album Mirror in 2000. Up to that point they had released a steady series of albums during the 90s, which included fan favorites like their 1994 self-titled album and 1995’s Further. They were a band that meant a lot to a small group of people, but always eluded widespread indie canonization.

So with the release of Instrumentals 2015, the question is, what does the band’s first full album of original material after 15 years of relative silence sound like?

The answer: it sounds the same. Those who are curious need not look any further than the album’s title and cover for a clue as to what the music sounds like: you are getting 15 impressionistic, noise-drenched guitar instrumentals in the style of Flying Saucer Attack. And as any self-respecting fan of the band would know, that is a good thing.

All 15 instrumentals on the album were composed solely by guitarist David Pearce. Flying Saucer Attack have generally avoided recording in a structured studio setting and Instrumentals 2015 is no different; it was recorded at home using only guitars on tape and CD-R. This type of home-grown obscurity is evident in the music. It is hard to pinpoint specific moments as the layered parts lend themselves to be considered in the frame of a complete whole.

The album starts off mellow and austere - which pretty much describes the majority of the album - leaning more to ambient than noise. On these tracks, Pearce’s economic guitar playing reminds me a little of Loren Connors at his most chilled, though obviously more structured.

The first startling moment that made me sit up and listen was on 'Instrumental 6'. A rush of noise screeches and squeals for a brief minute-and-a-half, sounding like a slumbering ghost who suddenly wakes up. It’s the first indication that this album is not merely meant for falling asleep to, but to be actively listened to and digested.

The tracks range in length from seconds to almost 10-minute long suites, which gives the overall feeling that the album is a collection of sonic tone poems. That sort of makes sense when one of the last pieces of original material Flying Saucer Attack released was on a tribute album celebrating the 100th year anniversary of James Joyce’s collection of poetry, Chamber Music.

Though the tone poems on Instrumentals 2015 sound distinct from each other, the album feels relatively unified in mood. Admittedly, it lags a little towards the end, where some of the songs sound a little brighter, but that change of pace doesn’t really take away from the thematic cohesion of the album.

The first single from the album, 'Instrumental 7', was accompanied by a black-and-white photographic music video by English director Peter Strickland (director of this year’s stunning film The Duke of Burgundy). This video perfectly captures the mood of the album: a slow-burning, quiet reflection on light and shadow, on innocence versus experience. In a press release distributed with the release of the music video, Strickland said it was his “first ever music video for a band that I’m very glad to see the return of.”

After digesting Instrumentals 2015, I can’t help but echo that glowing endorsement as well. Truly, sometimes you don't realize how much you need something until it is gone.

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