At the very least this album presents an excellent introduction to facial mechanics, but in addition you also get an excellent introduction to the roots of progressive rock. This album goes where no-one has dared venture before and this was just the beginning. Predating all the great progressive rock albums by several years and having enormous influence on the up and coming artists of the day makes this seminal album a milestone in anyone’s language. It remains unique in the world of popular culture.
The album opens with the stunning 21st Century Schizoid Man, in itself worth the cost of admission. A full on jazz rocker that explodes in your face and never lets up until it self destructs in a blaze of glory seven minutes later. In the interim you’re attacked with some singularly poignant and socially relevant lyrics. Before you can figure out what’s hit you, the album does a complete 180 in the second track, I Talk To The Wind, a gentle, meandering tune with tasteful acoustic guitars, flutes and haunting lyrics. Epitaph is a favourite of mine with the extraordinary and dramatic use of the Mellotron. Side two contains the ponderous and lengthy Moonchild complete with ten minute improvised “noodling” as one reviewer describes it. The most divisive track of the album, it definitely requires one to be in the right frame of mind. The final, title track is bold and gothic and well worth the wait. Again with excellent string arrangements played on the Mellotron and extremely poetic and imaginative lyrics (some would liken them to contemporary fantasy novels), the orchestration and dynamics are well thought out and executed.
With its dark character, extreme mood swings and ‘out there’ music, lyrics and arrangements, this album is not for the faint hearted. Nonetheless, a must have for the serious collector, connoisseur and those interested in early progressive rock and jazz rock.