Spring Clock Wonder: Fantastic
2008 / Ricardo Malti / CDBaby
11 tracks; 38:26 minutes
Reviewed by Tobin Mueller
Spring Clocker Wonder mixes alternative, metal, hardcore and progressive rock into a driving yet dreamy whole. They have a signature sound, upfront vocals over a cloud of distortion guitars and clean cymbals, with rhythmically interesting drum work and independent bass lines that give a sense of floating rather than grounding. Their latest release does not disappoint, providing song after song of impressionistic energy and conceptual rock.
With the exception of “Nowhere Near” which was co-written with Tim O’Saben, all tunes were written and performed by Ian Baird. Ian also self-produced, self-recorded and mastered the album alongside his longtime friend and engineering buddy Joel Gragg. Fantastic was recorded at Arjuna’s Soundroom (Greenville IL).
Pulling from influences like My Bloody Valentine, Thomas Dolby, Peter Gabriel, Sugar, Curve, The Beatles, Jesus Jones and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Spring Clock Wonder is a satisfying synthesis. There is also an element of psychedelia, especially in Ian’s lazy vocals and poetic imagery.
Ian Baird is a huge Doctor Who fan, and science fiction is not just something that comes out in his use of synths, but also in his subject matter. The title track, Fantastic, was written after the finale of Series 3. Laika and Wheel Within A Wheel both have to do with space travel (Sputnik and UFOs). There is a cynical touch to the lyrics, in keeping with contemporary sensibilities, but I get the feeling Ian, even though he likes to take on dark themes (Frater H, Downwinders, self-destruction), he also longs for cartoons, space dogs and economic revolution, uplifting ideas he seems to share with the angels. I suspect all these themes are related within the Tardis.
The sense of hope, buoyed on the fringe of sparkling joy, is confirmed in the final track, Something New, where backing sounds reminiscent of Star Trek transporter beams flow under a shifting harmonic mass more visual than audio, leading one to a transcendent future. Almost like a New Age glow flowering outward out of sheer determination. A special track.
SCW’s first album had a sameness throughout, almost as if Ian was trying to establish a sound over and over. With this album, he displays an easy confidence, creating a far more multi-timbral experience. But he never loses that SCW signature sound. Fantastic never bores, never over-burdens, doesn’t tire.
Recommended to all rock wayfarers.
1 - Fantastic
2 - Frater H
3 - Laika
4 - Downwinders
5 - The Plans Fall Apart Tonight
6 - To Take Effect
7 - Wheel Within A Wheel
8 - Autumn Again Thank You
9 - Overthruster 72
10 - Nowhere Near
11 - Something New