`Music For First Contact` is the new album from Post Coal Prom Queen and explores humanity’s first contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence through the prism of political satire, Scottish identity, and the cosmic sociology of cult sci-fi author Cixin Liu.
The album opens with `I See No Gods Up Here` with a tinkling piano before Stephanie Lamprea`s soprano vocals float in, over and envelop us in a joyful soundscape. Lily Higham`s more ethereal tones take over before a saxophone rings out over orchestrated strings and a thumping drumbeat. There`s a kind of jazzy texture about the vocal, sax and drum as the number progresses with lyrics that seem to tell of watchin
the earth, possibly with the aid of a sensory and visual aid. The lyrics
to `Wheeling Through The Void` were pretty surreal but the track appears to flit from a kind of folky texture to a more late-night jazzy feel with operatic nuances sprinkled atop, delightfully compelling.
`See Red Peace` is a brief aural soundscape before we enter a fantasised world in `Free Radio Phobos` where monstrous machines should strike fear but seem to provoke a comic response instead. Again, the number has shades of folk which morphs into a more jazz tinged offering.
`Daylight By Deimos` is a pretty mesmeric composition, almost instrumental with a spellbinding musical quality and operatic tones washing over. We have a further brief interlude with another aural soundscape in `Cosmic Tongues`.
`From Glasgow to Mars` has a fairly fast paced electronic beat with saxophone swathes, a guiding percussive beat and dreamy vocals that may well be an invitation to accompany the narrator on this cosmic voyage. The album closes out with `Sapere Aude` which thanks to the joys of the net, I discovered is the Latin phrase meaning “Dare to know“; and also loosely translated as “Have courage to use your own reason.” Once more it’s a joyously eclectic submission which begins with vocals that are nigh on choral almost spiritual before gaining a jazz colour with operatic tones scattered above then into a musical jam session before finally fading out with piano and breathy vocals.
`Music For First Contact` is in essence an opera by Post Coal Prom Queen who are the duo of Lily Higham and Gordon Johnstone who have brought their vision to fruition with the aid of violinist Laura Wilkie, saxophonist Calum Cummins, pianist Baichuan Hui, soprano Stephanie Lamprea and Phil McBride who added synth bass and guitar on a couple of tracks and assisted in the album`s production.
`Music For First Contact` will need a few listens before it really seeps in and I would love to experience a live performance similar to that when Mogwai performed to a showing of Atomic in a cathedral. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this enthralling aural presentation.
Rating 8.5 /10