The hour of unchecked classics and moderately fettered experiences have begun. I’ve tempered an ear or two to that spooky shit for the sake of the best monthly festivity you’ll find on the calendar for you’ll never run out of things to be scared of. You know what you shouldn’t be scared of, though? Bad segues. What? I’ve got sloppy recently, and so I gotta do some work. Here’s another thing you shan’t show a smidgen of fear towards, Days of Future Passed (1967, Deram), a mid-late 60’s autopsy that showcased how the line between the baroque, the poppy, the rock-hard bombards, the psychs and tone poems evaporated with just a month or so of recording.
The Day Begins sobers with a slap of orchestral fellowships giving you the whole mise-en-scene. Mind you, it’s got the constructs of very light symphonic work so there’s nothing overtly challenging going on. Hell, the whole thing’s got a malaise of pastel passivity. It doesn’t matter how shit your headphones are too, cause they’ll twinkle and twirl and pluck away at your psyche as if surgically reconstructing it to be at the same wavelength as amongst the other grass-grazin’ watercolor-splashing folk whose beings and characters likely orbit around the burrows of this piece. It’s beautiful and friendly, not necessarily hindered by accessibility. The spoken word that starts establishing its presence comes off an issue at first before finally being nourished into the nest of orchestration. What it exactly said, I’ll come back to you in about two years regarding that. Dawn has come and Dawn Is A Feeling, as pleasant as the rising yellows of weather present by a window seat of an airliner. At last, the vocals arrive, and sure it’s got the tonal convention and inflection of most other popular 60’s male-led acts (especially if we’re to frolic in the realms of psychedelic pop, even more so if from the UK), but it’s got the whole London Festival Orchestra at is back ready to propel it to a more notable echelon than its feeble four-instrument contemporaries. It floats with immense nonverbal prose thanks primarily to just the tone-defining swell of backing instrumentation.
Then we’ve got the twee, virtually over-friendly contents of Another Morning, where the sink into the helms of psych-pop convention go too far for the piece’s sake. The woodwinds that accompany the gaps between verses supplied for their eras what the vocals have for the psychedelic age: contents that’ll fuck up your insulin. They quickly remember they’re better than that near the end when the whole orchestra intervenes, creating a much more defined look into the whole scenery. Lunch Break has a clutz’s soul blasphemously encased inside of the start like a cement tomb, creating a sequence that is sabotaged more easily by eagerness, hilariously. It bounces along the fields hard enough to cause a million cases of headrush. Onward we find a segment more adjacent to the rhythms of surf if anything, devoid of any jet-engine guitar work. Of course, it’s gotta move along like everything else so it instead breaks down to just a choir of primitive psych-rock vocals and organ before building back into something much more reliant on individual flourishing efforts and borderline solo work. This is likely the most worthwhile section of the piece. Half of the contents here stick proficiently and some other aspects got a little too on the soft side.
The Afternoon has an even more conventional start than the previous pieces. Luckily, consciousness is gained and it chooses to divert from this course of cliche and guesses selecting a mix between a soft little boogying ditty and a pop breakdown of the times, which is… generally alright, it doesn’t create too profound a wave within my conscience, rather just a series of notes in a mental clipboard. Woodwinds lift this segment out of the ground, to a sonic dark, and then gushes the nearest pair of ears a few kilometers past the clouds. Oh so twinklish and genteel, it probably refuses to alert you to any oncoming turbulence, sunfall, or just plain storm and shiver. The time of day doesn’t last a whole lot, now we’re in the evening aspect where all the rigamarole melts away in favour of melancholic wandering, and- god damnit, it’s starting to get all upbeat from nearly nowhere before choosing to chase its way into the sun when the whole purpose is marching off to night. Maybe it is marching moonbound, shit. I dunno, all I know is that it sure needs a better compass. I bet you this whole segment will grow on me in a tremendous softcore eureka, cause nonetheless the integration of the organ and acoustics and all the tambourine work are at tip-top shape. Bitch please, by the way, because it all fades away before it could grow on me. We’re onto Evening now, you sorry soldier.
It’s got a slight wad of murk at the scene-setting role, of course laid bare by vocals a tad too ripped from the radio for the piece’s sake. You know what I wanna see? Ol’ Mr. Waits giving this piece a go, that’ll really show them. Give it an extra coat of murk, but specifically the kind that feels a tad touched by beauty, and there’ll be a whole new sheen, texture, depth and finish to this appetizer. The orchestra comes once more, hoo-wee our saviour, before waddling over to faux-vivacity then adhering our eyes to the sport of stargazing once more with a gentle lift before we catch a glimpse of some ultra-giga-rhythmic jive-dependent space civilizations. They speak like the same guys as before, but with a little more character! It’s like a beautiful exhibition with the most entertaining damn guide you could ask for. Sure, the prattling regarding twilight could get a bit old, but there’s a lot more to look at here, especially given what this song likes pointing us at. Lookie, old spit, that one’s got no face but its head is shaped like a space capsule’s heat shield. It fades back into gently pondering touches of London Festival, but I struggle being indignant given it’s got a lot more seamlessness to the transition (which given the awkward fade may not be saying too much, but hey, you ought to give them credit for an improvement that swell).
Nights in White Satin, I’ve already a fondness for the bass work on this one. Although the strings can kinda drown out the drumming’s priority in the mix to a very notable extent, it’s still got a decent sheen. The vocals finally have slipped right into the bag, orating its job dutifully. The chorus has an antidepressant in the form of the swells trying to lift the listener up every time like a patchwork of symphonic-prog practices and theories. The instrumental breaks have so much more going for them thanks to the most definitely passable drum work, save for some rushes. I smell choirs of impression-lovin’ uncles contributing to the chorus swell. Oh, then it all breaks away via timpani into another construct of orchestra, likely the most captivating one yet, the sailing infinitely smoother before breaching into something a bit more awkward than expected. Ah, the spoken word, I thought that variable has long since faded. It doesn’t instill too much profundity, and definitely not nearly as much as the final bow from the orchestra. The gong does make me chuckle, though.
This album is among the first breaths of prog-rock (if not the first before the solidification via King Crimson and the Mothers of Invention), standing among a barren land alongside Family, Procol Harum and the Nice where a new rock bastion would inevitably awaken with enough genius at the wheel. It just so happens that this poses a much greater contribution to the realms of pop music than it ever has to rock. You can smell the pieces of evidence that indicate later bands would take the ambitions of this album and meet them in a way the Moody Blues never fully satisfied, down to the classical fusion and influence so obvious they’re likely as omnipresent in this album as numbers are in mathematics. Among the primary detriments are that the vocals aren’t as consistently evolved and ahead of the curve as the rest of the album’s ensemble. It remains tied to the voices and inflections of other psych-pop acts (most notably the Beatles, to a massive extent in The Afternoon), where the rest of the album is already ~5 years ahead of its local contemporaries. Is it the most forward-thinking rock/pop album that involved a massive ensemble of people? Not a damn chance, especially given the same year over in Texas, Mayo Thompson started getting busy telling everyone to start clanging together whatever they wanted to bring to the most arable table in the history of psychedelic music.
The dynamics have issues sticking the landings. Sometimes there’s too much cottony sugar in the instrument work (most criminally within the woodwinds) for the more abstract and darker periods of the record. Sometimes the transitions in between movements fail entirely. The album remains of worthwhile stature, especially when compared to its national contemporaries’ attempts at bridging rock with classical.
Trajectory of listens past the first: likely positive.
Written 10/24/2023, 3:55 - 4:52 PM.