Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Soft Hearted Scientists – The Slow Cyclone

Cardiff's psych-collective release their ambitious 6th album. A wide-reaching 24 track song cycle.

There's no other band quite like Soft Hearted Scientists. The Cardiff-based mavericks' 6th album is ample proof of that, and may be their strongest yet. Over an ambitious song-cycle of 24 tracks, Soft Hearted Scientists take you to places other bands don't, yet still manage to buy you an ice cream and get you home in time for tea.

There's a lot to immerse yourself in with this disc. At almost an hour long, it's divided into four sections, each containing full length songs as well as short musical snippets and jingles. There's a vast musical scope across the whole shebang, their trademark nursery rhyme melodies rub shoulders with eerie soundscape pieces, folksy interludes and moments of baroque elegance. It's as if Meic Stevens has made an album with Syd Barrett, and got the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to produce.

At times the album come across as a soundtrack to an as yet unmade movie. Quite what that movie's plot-line would be is anyone's guess. It would have to involve hermit crabs, flying horses and moments of tripped-out japery. A film worthy of a kickstarter project if ever there was one!

For all the Brit-psych whimsy the album also contains some deeper lyrical themes which are occasionally at odds with the music and melodies that contain them. This spoonful-of-sugar/bitter-pill approach makes for a listening experience that's both gently unsettling (in a good way), and genuinely surprising.

“We may be the last flowers in the garden” they sing on Cobra Clouds. Let's hope not, but if so these are plants we should love and nurture. Take up thy watering-can and walk.

The band play Sheffield Lantern Theatre on Saturday 8th November.

Click here for more on Soft Hearted Scientists.