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Copernicus

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Review by Gary Hill

This album is an intriguing and interesting (if perhaps not the most readily listenable one). Copernicus is a poet and all these songs are poetry readings over music. Much of this can draw comparisons to William Shatner’s Transformed Man for that reason. Still, this is a lot more progressive rock oriented than that album was – leaning most of the time towards RIO, but hitting on space rock, too. The lyrical concept is about a new way of thinking that embraces the scientific universe that shows humanity as nothing more than a strange little turn of fate in a universe beyond our comprehension. I like some of this a lot. Some of it is a bit jarring for me. That said, I can definitely appreciate the art involved – and Black 47’s Larry Kirwan is one of the musicians here – and I always enjoy anything that features him.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
12 Subatomic Particles
Copernicus' voice opens this alone. Then some weird keys join the mix. It gradually builds and expands from there. As strange and seemingly freeform as this piece is, it grows in a satisfying, organic way. It feels almost catchy at times. Sure, it's bizarre and rather jarring, but there is a definite beauty to it, too. You can make out Kirwan's vocals in one section of this. The cut is really trippy, but also really cool. The lyrics seem to talk about scientific particles as the creative force in the universe suitable for worship.
The Quark Gluon Plasma
This begins with acoustic guitar and if the first song is about science as religion, this would be the book of Genesis – detailing the beginnings of the universe. It is quite weird and a bit hard to take at times. Yet, it is also compelling in its strangeness.
The Blind Zombies
Although this starts much like the other tracks, it evolves into the most melodic and accessible, “song like” piece we’ve heard so far. Where the other tracks have been a bit difficult to listen to, this one is a joy. The music works through feeling very classic rock at times. At other points the cut is quite classical in nature.
Humanity Created the Illusion of Itself
While not as melodic and wondrous as the track that preceded it, this piece is definitely more palatable than the first couple numbers here. There is a bit more of a freeform beat poetry/jazz texture to this. I can also make out some early Hawkwind-styled space rock weirdness, too. As it hits the half way mark that Hawkwind style really begins to drive this and possess it. As it intensifies this is even more prominent.
Atomic New Orleans
Take the music that has made up the bulk of the rest of the disc and mix it with blues, old school rock and roll and some jazz. You’ve got a good idea of what this song sounds like. It’s one of the highlights of the set. Black 47’s Larry Kirwan adds some distinctive vocals to this.
Poor Homo Sapiens
This really feels like a Black 47 track – one of the slow, sort of freeform, mellower numbers. It’s a cool tune. It does move into more purely progressive rock territory as it moves on, but still sounds like Black 47. Of course, despite what many might think, Black 47 have always had a lot of progressive rock within its musical mixture. It changes to more stripped down avante garde sounds later, though – for the extended closing section.
Revolution!!
Percussion leads it off here. This builds slowly and gradually, but has a lot of cool space rock and freeform jazz woven into it. It’s got a real groove to it at times. As this continues to evolve it moves into music more akin with the opening numbers of the set. There is still some Hawkwind like space rock going on here, too, though. It breaks into some seriously weird, but stripped down, freeform territory around the mid-point (this one is almost twenty one minutes in length). Around the fifteen minute mark it moves to a more rock oriented groove, but only barely – with more Hawkwind-styled space rock.
 
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