Lobate Scarp – Time and Space

Lobate Scarp’s debut album Time and Space (2012)has been five years in the making, and features some fifty-plus musicians to create this catchy, modern symphonic epic. Led by Adam Sears, the band features Dustin Prince on drums, Andy Catt on bass, Hoyt Binder on lead guitar, Nate “The Fish” Olmos on additional guitars, and Adrienne Woods on cello; with the addition of several guest musicians and a choir.

The overall sound of this very much love-oriented album is that of a modern symphonic band with catchy melodies, sweeping orchestral gestures, and lyrics that are in some parts deep and other times quite pop-like. It combines the symphonic provisions of the keyboard with real string instruments used to good effect for solo passages, with the heavier sounds expected of a rock outfit, culminating in a blend that is reminiscent of Kansas and Spock’s Beard.

The opening track Time and Space begins with the melancholy musings of a sad, lonely cello introducing us to an almost haunting theme before jumping feet-first into a South American samba-style rendition of Spock’s Beard complete with congas. The use of a Hammond Organ sound, and several other prog-rock staples, combined with multiple changes in pace and rhythm lend themselves well as an introduction to the album and set out some of the themes we’ll hear throughout the remaining tracks. The lyrics themselves tell a tale of technology and evolution that peaks, towards the end of the track, with an ending conjuring Würm from Yes’ Starship Trooper which interweaves guitar and bass, often travelling in different directions before coming back together. This is the longest track on the album, weighing in at a hefty 15 minutes, which for the themes introduced is perhaps a little long, but it remains a strong opener.

The second track Jacob’s Ladder is, in contrast, the shortest track on the album and the only one under five minutes. With lyrics that wouldn’t be out of place on a pop song, it tells of self-indulgence and being alone with the lust for another’s love. Its use of the Theremin adds a haunting edge to the tune, as do the minor keys used within the keyboard solos.

Beginning of Us begins sparsely with a piano joined eventually by guitar and bass before eventually becoming padded out with synthesizers that give this song an edge of Transatlantic with a hint of Kansas. The lyrics are again about love, but yet again show a different aspect—this time that of the cycle of relationships from the very beginning where everything is new, right through to the inevitable break up and the sadness and regret that the protagonist goes through before he’s once again single and dreaming of a new beginning. Right in the middle there’s a short modulated synthesizer solo that takes the mind to Keith Emerson.

We’re now in the middle of the album, and what better a place to have a track that tells of the battle between two compelling sides? The Contradiction begins with vocals sang down a telephone shortly joined by a militaristic, almost battle-like, drumming that takes us into this song about the conflict between your physical and spiritual being and the ability to accept the love evident on both sides. The end of this track has a cello solo that morphs into electric guitar, then back into cello, like the two sides of the tale intertwining and accepting each other, working together in pure beauty.

Save my Soul is, by contrast, the heaviest track on this album, but falls just a little short of metal. It’s reminding of Dream Theater in places, and is angry in comparison to the rest of the album. Lyrically, it tells of a failure to understand yourself before being able to love and be loved by another—the protagonist claims that he doesn’t need his soul saving by someone else, but needs to save himself first. A middle section that sounds almost jazz-like, is contrasted by a battle of inner angst towards the end where brass is used to good effect.

A much lighter track follows, with Moment painting a picture of a moment of true love, but with an edge of sadness. It is the most symphonic track on the album, using the string sounds to tell a story of that turning point where love goes wrong and how the subject of our tale would throw out that moment and relive it again more positively to ensure that he can stay with his lover forever.

The final track is about the universality of love and the importance of becoming your true self. It opens with an ethereal guitar solo in the style of David Gilmour, before evolving into a fast-paced rhythm with counter melodies provided by the cello. It tells of looking into a mirror, but seeing past the reflection to reveal your true inner-self capable of seeing the love in everything. A change of sound halfway through the track breaks into an electric cello solo, which is then augmented by snare drums and electric guitar, before another electric cello solo. This is eventually joined by the dark Latin-sounding vocals of a full choir, which is used to an effect similar to that of Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Centre of the Earth and brings the album to its climax—a good counter-balance to the opening track.

For what is essentially a love album, Time and Space rarely mentions the word “love” itself, but the messages in the tracks are clear without being over the top or sickly. Overall it’s a great album that should appeal to fans of modern symphonic rock, whilst still having the odd track that wouldn’t be out of place on mainstream radio.

Electric Freedom rating: four out of five

Time and Space is available now at Amazon MP3.

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