Band: Orange Clocks | Album: Metamorphic | Genre: Space rock, Psychedelic rock | Year: 2020
From: Rushden, UK | Label: Bad Elephant Music
For fans of: Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Ozric Tentacles, Elder
It’s often interesting to see acts evolve across successive albums. Even within the realm “progressive” genres, some bands don’t change their sound very much. Meanwhile, others engage in wild genre-hopping on the regular. More often, you find something like you do with Orange Clocks. Their 20-song 2017 debut album was chock-full of narration and brief interludes. The music was also somewhat unfocused, drawing heavily both from early Pink Floyd and the broader world of funk.
Metamorphic, the band’s second studio album, alleviates many of the issues of their debut. The sound is more consistent, and the distracting narration is gone, giving their sophomore release a more mature feel. The presence of stoner/desert rock is considerably more pronounced as well, and elements of krautrock and drone have begun to be worked in.
“Space Witch” opens the album on an ominous note. Wah-wahed guitar slowly twists upward as heavily-reverbed vocals swirl over it. The song’s middle section gets a shot of adrenaline before ending on a bluesier variation of the opening riff. Following this is the more laid-back “Eye of Psybin”, which sounds like a stoner rock version of a song off The Wall. And despite my frequent decrials of The Wall as a mediocre record, I mean it as a compliment in this instance.
“Miles Away” continues with David Gilmour-y guitar lines in its opening. The verses are mellow, and the vocals remind me a lot of Phideaux. The middle eight is pretty weird and sinister, but this song doesn’t do much to stand out on the whole. Following this is “Let Me Breathe”, a good song overall. It has an inversion of the weakness that plagues its predecessor, though. The verses are energetic and immediately draw you in, but the chorus falls flat.
The choppy vocal pattern on “Floating Temple” has the most unique feel of any song on the album up to this point, finally shaking free of obvious Pink Floyd influence and indistinct desert rock. Its second half takes on a nearly-meditative quality. Chanted vocals and steady, propulsive drums carry it forward to a slightly-cheesy-but-pretty-enjoyable guitar solo. “Ammonite”, despite its grating, honky synth tone, is my favorite song on the album. The first half is instrumental, but it’s the second half which really stands out. It’s highly melodic and synthesizes their space and desert influences in a great way.
“Noggy Pop” closes the album. On Bandcamp, it looks a 28-minute monster, but its real runtime is only about nine-and-a-half minutes. There are some vague Spanish flavors in the opening minutes, which is another welcome bit of flair. The song takes a few minutes to get going, but by the time it reaches its climax, it’s a maelstrom of astral guitar and Ozric Tentaclesque synthesizers. Once “Noggy Pop” ends, it’s followed by 30 seconds of silence and then 18 minutes of drone and synth textures.
Orange Clocks made some big strides on their sophomore release. The record sounds cohesive, and the band members have made more of an effort to establish their own unique sound. However, the current prog scene is swamped with sorta-proggy stoner rock/metal acts. They’ve got the potential to put out something great. They also need to better synthesize the Hawkwind and Pink Floyd influences into something more distinct.