Today we are taking a sideways step from reviewing books – since I haven’t read anything new – and into music; and more specifically, into deep space as I take a look at Chris Conway’s latest CD, ‘Deep Space Love’:
The album is a showcase for the kind of music known as Filk; ie Science Fiction Folk. Now as you know, I am not a science fiction fan: I am, in the words of one of the songs on this LP, a ‘heretic fen’ who dislikes all forms of Sci-fi except the comedic – and, of course, Dr Who… but if this is representative, then I guess I do like Filk.
The album starts with the boppy and amusing ‘Three-headed Girl’, a love-song about – well, a three-headed girl. This has some great lines in it and sets the lyrical – if not the musical – tone for the rest of the album. ‘Three-headed Girl’ is followed by the slower, dreamier ‘Love Space-station’ with more whimsical lyrics – the lyrics are in fact what keeps me listening, although musically the album is interesting too. With ‘Monkeys on the Moon’ we are back in the realm of the comedic and we stay there – albeit taking a sideways step into the absurd – for ‘Zonky Ponky.’ Yes, everyone really does have a zonky-ponky – and if you don’t know what that is, you have to ask some guy on Betelgeuse. Sorry. Then we are ‘Out of this World’, another dreamlike number, before suffering from the ‘Replicator Malfunction Blues’ (we never had this problem on Deep Space 8′) and that concludes the first of three sections, each of which is separated by a space-type announcement in soft, robotic tones.
In section 2 there’s a kind of bossa-nova feel to ‘Death to the Immortals’, another whimsically comedic number about trying to kill all your immortal friends, and the immortal theme continues with ‘Superheroes Never Die’: though Superman is no longer a hero ‘some habits cling on from his youth/he still changes his clothes in a telephone booth.’
The initial chords of ‘Vegetarian Vampire’ – a socially-responsible blood-sucker who ‘hasn’t tasted blood for more than a century’ and wonders ‘should I give up dairy?’ – sound a little like ‘Stairway to Heaven’, I couldn’t decide if that was deliberate or not – but there was some nice Jethro Tull-like flute playing later on.
My favourite track is ‘Orbiting Filk Recording Studio’ which is about song-recording and has some great lines (‘they’re recording with a new percussionist/he’s a monkey with a hockey stick’; ‘Last night I recorded a ballad/I was going to have dinner but an alien jellyfish stole my salad’; ‘ tell me why the best music happens when I forget to press record?’; ‘Paul’s been a Dr Who fan for years/and has been rewarded for his persistence/ he’s singing in a choir made up entirely/ of female Dr Who assistants’). This is neatly followed by ‘Downers’, a song about trying to write upbeat songs and failing (I guess that could be a Leonard Cohen anthem, LOL) and then a primitive feel on ‘Burn the Heretic Fen’ takes the piss out of dogmatic Sci-Fi fans who can’t comprehend anyone not liking Star Wars.
I’ve never seen Star Wars. No, honestly. And I’m with him nearly all the way on this one. ‘What a lot of fuss about a little ring’ indeed… then we’re in the realms of folky fun with ‘The Fish Song’ where ‘fish’ is spelt ‘H-AT-S-T-A-N-D (instead of GHOTI as it ought to be spelt)*
and that’s more or less it. The album ends dreamily and robotically (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) with ‘Circle of One’ and there we are, back to where we started. I think I’ve proved that you don’t have to like Sci-fi to enjoy ‘Deep Space Love’ – you just have to like music and lyrics.