Released: Nov 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
Colin Self’s “Siblings” is one of the few times I am totally stumped as to how to classify a musical work. This isn’t because it is the weirdest record I have ever heard, not by a long shot, but because of the breadth of material and the styles that get rolled in along the way.
It is like Colin has looked at each part of his song-cycle and decided the best way to deliver it. That means we can be pinballed from Light Opera to EBM Industrial with abandon. This is all too easily a recipe for disaster but not here, not with Colin.
I don’t know what Colin’s background is. The album comes to me with supporting material from the record company RVNG Int but I will say it is far too Modern Arty for my ability to parse any of it into anything as prosaic as Colin grew up in X, went to school at Y and joined his first Z band in 19nn. Often I don’t care much about that but in this case, I’d like to understand how Colin is doing such unique work instead of being in a common Rap or Metal band (maybe he does that too). I’m betting on theater work.
Either way, this work speaks of someone with not only a deep understanding of music and the forms but of how to present his work very well as this sounds really well performed & recorded indeed.
This isn’t exactly a Pop record as you have no doubt worked out. Nor is it straight Prog Rock but if you are a fan of early Genesis or Peter Gabriel, even Kate Bush’s wilder moments then you aren’t too at sea.
There is a video on the album page linked below. If it doesn’t make you toss your cookies, you may learn something. I don’t think it represents the totality of the album very well. Sadly only 2 tracks are available to hear but I can say that if you find them interesting the rest of the record won’t disappoint.
One of my tests with this sort of material is to see if I want to hear it again. Or if it drives me so mad I need to throw it out the window before I’m even done the first time. “Siblings” passes both tests. But I will say you may need several passes to even begin to feel like this makes much sense if you normally listen to simpler Rock records. Worth it tho.
I’m not sure there is much more I can say about this material as it feels like a rather personal experience. But I’ll give you a few of the things it made me think of that I’ve had in my collection over the years.
The first concrete association I made, and one that sticks, is with Fad Gadget (Frank Tovey) and his “Under The Flag” album which is also an odd record wrapped around more normal moments – the EBM elements particularly. Rainer Bloss “Ampsy – A Mythodigital Fairytale” is a bit out there too with a mix of elements held together by a theatrical story (or sense of at least). Rick Wakeman “1984” is also brought to mind as you have a real Rock Opera from a seasoned composer.