CD REVIEW: Sloth Metropolis – Humanise

Released on 18th September.

But who the heck are they?

Sloth Metropolis formed in Glasgow in 2012. With ‘The Sloth of the Metropolis’ its mascot, the members are Alastair Milton on keyboards, Peter Fleming on bass, Steve McNamara on drums and Calum Calderwood on electric violin and vocals. Live, and joining the musicians on stage, a host of masked guest acolytes add a flair of musical, acting, and ritual expertise. Pre-Covid, that is.

The band’s influences range from Gong to Van der Graaf Generator to King Crimson. Despite their youth, they have shaped a trilogy of concept albums and an EP that weave their musical mythology with prog, psych, folk, and heavy rock, including duelling distorted electric violin and keyboard solos with dramatic twists in song structures and sharp, narrative lyrics. Live performances spectacularly showcase the vivid drama, encouraging audience interaction with significant use of props and costumes.

Listening to them, you somehow get transported back to early Gong, deepest psychedelia, earliest prog rock, with random bits of musical allsorts thrown into the mix. Aurally dramatic, you are left wondering how they pull it off live. Betcha they can as they are as tight as a nut, and wild as a wild thing. The essence of Daevid Allen is alive and thrashing around, most definitely. Oh and a word of praise for the violin – nifty!

Their record label is Bad Elephant Music, and they are a good match. “We’re really excited to be teaming up with BEM”, says Calum Calderwood “It’s great to find a label that gets what we’re up to with the concepts, and the eclectic nature of our music. Our new album ‘Humanise’ is the most creative and cohesive we’ve done so far, and definitely the proggiest so BEM are the ideal fit!”

Here’s the band’s take on the album:

“In the EP ‘Move’, the Sloth of the Metropolis was forced to go flat hunting and found a mysterious manuscript whilst clearing out his old house. In ‘Origins’, the Sloth opened up the manuscript and read the story of Aengus Rudach—a Scottish bard and Alchemist from the 17th century who sailed to a mysterious island in the Atlantic after being accused of witchcraft. Aengus put together an alchemical experiment, aiming to combine the superhuman powers of the Island’s two inhabitants, the ‘Master of Matter’ and the ‘Master of Mind’. Instead of the perfection he hoped for, Aengus found himself transformed into a blissfully static sloth. In the new album, ‘Humanise’, we turn to the Next Page of the manuscript and find a combination of lyrics, music and ceremonial instructions known as the ‘Songs of Aengus’. The gist of the ritual is simple. Step one: bring together 4 musicians. Step two: compose 4 songs. Step three: perform them live or record them for an outside audience. Step four: let the transformation begin.”

Mad as a bag of frogs but weirdly intriguing in concept and execution.

Tracklisting:

Band Together

Human1se

Humani2e

Humanis3

Hum4nise

Human of the Metropolis

Band

Alastair Milton: keys and sax
Calum Calderwood: electric- violin and vocals
Peter Fleming: bass and backing vocals
Steve McNamara: drums and percussion

with:

Alistair Homer: trumpet
Eilidh Harris: backing vocals
Nick Gaughan: synths and backing vocals
Randolph Edwards: backing vocals and sloth personifications

Additional crowd noises by Chloe Josse, Maria Chiappa, Nadia Palma and Brenden Crow.

Music by Sloth Metropolis
Lyrics by Calum Calderwood
Recorded at 16 Ohm Studio by Tommy Duffin
Mixed by Omar Aborida
Mastered by David Elliott
Artwork & design by Calum Calderwood and Peter Fleming
Photography by Demelza Kingston (Oculus Sinistra)

No guitars (except bass) were used in the making of this album.

https://en-gb.facebook.com/SlothMetropolis/

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