Tope's Sphere 2 by Orange ClocksRelease date: March 3, 2017
Label: Bad Elephant
Orange Clocks aren’t your usual type of band. Not for them the simple process of creating some music and then setting it loose into the wild. No, Orange Clocks have much higher notions and, taking their cue from the wonderfully wacky world of Gong, have created their own world to go along with their music. Its a world of obscure German producers, a children’s TV show called Tope’s Sphere and progressive jazz rock.
Called upon to reimagine the lost fragments of this TV show, Orange Clocks are given free reign to recreate an episode of this children’s TV show. Things are not quite what they seem though and it seems a healthy dose of psilocybin has been imbibed as the music develops. A rather endearing tale of two friends suddenly becomes a battle against evil. If this is what German TV was like back in 1973 then we certainly have travelled too far in the wrong direction.
To doubt is to ruin all the fun though and one thing that does stand out in this wonderfully weird world is the superb musicianship of the East Northants band. Well versed in the etiquette of jazz rock, they veer from driving riffs to tripped out ambience, often in the space of a couple of minutes. Indeed, blink and you may miss out on some of the story, such is the pace of the album.
Frank Zappa once raised the question of humour belonging in music but it would take a very churlish person to deny the exuberant fun that is being had here. The narration pulls you along as Tope finds himself in ever more scrapes, whilst the band even sound like they are trying to outplay each other too. The flow is lysergic and unpredictable, much like the story, and behind the over the top conceptualism is a keen sense of professionalism that keeps everything from falling apart.
Whether Orange Clocks are the band for you or not you’ll be hard-pushed to find a more original album this year. Yes, you can trace the lineage to Gong and Zappa but they stand alone at this time, doing what they do. Fall for the concept, let the narrative drag you in, and enjoy what is a splendidly silly, psychedelically jazzy, over the top slice of superb music.