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Soft Hearted Scientists - 2016 - "Golden Omens"

(65:55 2CD, ‘The Hip Replacement’)


CD 1:
1. Little Gardens Full of Ghosts 0:56
2. Golden Omens 3:04
3. Shiver Me Timbers 3:26
4. If Only It Would Rain Again 0:55
5. Rue the Day 3:01
6. Crystal Coves 3:16
7. On a Clear Day I Can Think for Miles 2:35
8. Reverse Reference 0:34
9. Zeds 2:22
10. Strange Oceans 2:44
11. People, Cities & the Silence 1:40
12. Helicopters of Habershon Street 2:21
13. The Upward Spiral 4:20

CD 2:
14. 51.802294,-3.222266 1:26
15. Surferella 2:11
16. Glimpse! 2:40
17. 27 Seconds in Antarctica 0:32
18. The Creeps 3:58
19. Imaginary Film Scene #1 2:35
20. The Missing Mountains Song 3:21
21. Cherry Blossom Velvet Vision 2:18
22. The Vultures 4:11
23. On a Pathway Darkly 2:33
24. Incredible Design 4:59
25. The Opportunity 3:00
26. Transistoresister 0:58


Nathan Hall – vocals; guitars; keyboards, electronics, percussion
Paul Jones – vocals; guitars; keyboards, electronics, percussion
Dylan Line – guitars; keyboards, electronics, programming
Michael Bailey – bass 

Prolusion. The UK/Welsh band SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS first appeared back in 2004, when they released a couple of singles, and have since been a part of the local music scene in Wales, steadily releasing new music and slowly gaining recognition by music lovers. "Golden Omens" is their most recent studio album, and was released in 2016 via their own label The Hip Replacement.

Analysis. Soft Hearted Scientists is a band that just as well may have named itself Soft Spoken Scientists, as they seem to shy away from any major or even distinct dramatic effects being applied in their music by design rather than by accident. Their material can generally be described as gentle and subtle by nature and delicate and careful in execution. Many of the tracks here, as in the vast and greater majority, come across as compositions worked out on an acoustic guitar, and I suspect that most of them could easily be performed by one person with that instrument at hand too. In fact, some of them are more or less of that very nature, gently melancholic wandering creations that softly transport the listener into a serene and pastoral beauty. Others are expanded a bit, some with touches of what I associate with Americana or US roots music, if you like, although in this case this may well be songs that pick up on the vibe that influences the creation of US based roots music originally. Personally I find the band at the most interesting when the scope is widened even more. When gentle flute or flute-like sounds are given room, organ and keyboards are allowed in and given space and echoing instrument details add a subtle psychedelic sheen to the landscapes explored, and even more so when the songs shift up a further gear into realms containing elements with a careful touch of weirdness to them – whimsical instrumental or vocal details, especially in the songs where the jolly and whimsical meet up with other effects of a subtly dark and ominous nature. Soft Hearted Scientists are good at what they do though, no matter what mood and atmosphere they seek out to explore. My impression is that this latest album of theirs is one that ever so slightly moves away from the more whimsical and eerie elements and focuses a bit more on the conventional side of things, an album with perhaps not quite as many moments of zany, but gentle brilliance and arguably a few more moments of music that might have a slightly wider general appeal.

Conclusion. "Golden Omens" is an old fashioned double album, put together in a manner that begs for a double LP release at some point if the commercial interest is high enough. Those fond of acoustic based music exploring landscapes of gentle but at times quirky and subtly weird psychedelia should probably be the ones that note down the name of this album first and foremost, although I suspect that many that also enjoy what is described as singer/songwriter music these days should also find this release to be of interest.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 14, 2016
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Soft Hearted Scientists


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