Album Review: Duncan Lloyd – Outside Notion

duncan lloydDuncan Lloyd – Outside Notion

Psychedelic Rock | Baroque Pop

85%

Now is not the time for taking risks. It’s a difficult time for artists to make a living, so the sensible bet would to be finding a formula that works and sticking to it. It’s a rare occurrence these days to find a band or artist willing to pull a Talk Talk; to forgo a successful radio-friendly streak in favour of pushing your creative horizons to their absolute limit. To create a vast expanse and fill it with lush rich textures so that it feels bursting with life. Enter unlikely hero Duncan Lloyd, best known for creating indie bangers with Maximo Park. Though he has dipped his toes into his experimental side on previous releases, Outside Notion sees him diving headfirst into the deep end. A place where meandering psychedelic jams, autumnal folk and elegant orchestral scores live harmoniously. The end result is the kind of record that will have you picking up on some detail that you missed with each new listen.

Easing you in gently with the dream pop foray of ‘Historic Elements’, it’s not long before you find yourself immersed in the album’s rich and varied soundscape.  ‘5am Eyes’ and the gorgeous instrumental ‘Journey B’ are where you find the strings at their most spellbinding. The latter begins with a slight country twang interwoven with the strings. One moment you can image yourself running through golden fields and the next it feels as though you’re dancing on air.

The title track starts out deeply reminiscent of Nick Drake before delving into trippier territory. Psychedelica reigns supreme however on tracks like ‘Planetarium’ and ‘Young Dreams’, taking you on a kaleidoscopic odyssey thanks to the stunning guitar work. I’m reminded of the story behind the song ‘Maggot Brain’ by Funkadelic, how Eddie Hazel was told to imagine finding out his mother had died and he simply captured the very essence of sorrow and loss in his playing. The solo at the end of ‘Young Dreams’ strikes me as being born by the same approach, by channelling something primal deep down, but instead giving a voice to pure unbridled joy.

Though the record loses a bit of steam over the last couple of tracks, by that time you have already been taken on enough of vibrant voyage to more than make up for it. Outside Notion is a deeply surprising and accomplished record that feels like grey walls around you crumbling down to reveal a world just ripe for adventure.

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