Roger Waters is lost. Whatever he’s doing or saying right now – we’re better off not granting him any attention. But just as a backwards-sillywalking John Cleese cannot diminish my enjoyment of Monty Python, one will never be able to deny Water’s legacy with Pink Floyd. But if you’re having a hard time ignoring that stain and even the persistence of Gilmour and Mason cannot wash it away, why not take a break from the original for a change and listen to the debut of a band from Frankfurt which boldly claims to be based on the idea of continuing right were Animals left off?
Of course most of you understandably won’t believe The Black Cat’s Eye that they can actually pull that trick off, but already very early on the twenty minute instrumental opener “Kill The Sun And The Moon And The Stars” should prove every sceptic wrong. It does an incredible job of underscoring the quintet’s ambitions. Presented in a big and clean production this track displays nothing short of sheer mastery in emulating all the crucial trademarks of the epic mid seventies period – from the Ambient to the pianos and acoustic guitars, the Blues and subtle Prog. But where the Brits built The Wall, ze Krauts luckily don’t follow in their footsteps. (Sorry, but the crampy pathos of that album is hard to bear over its full length.)
The Black Cat’s Eye take a step to the purer and actually more psychedelic tone of earlier works and make it sound like a natural evolution in a parallel, more Gilmour-centric Floydverse. It’s huge and marvelous – and with the following four tracks having only regular running times of around four to five minutes your enjoyment of this giant undoubtedly is the tip of the scale, which decides if you want to own the whole album or not.
One alternative scenario however is that you’re wondering whether you really need a carbon copy tribute act, no matter how brilliant it is. And The Black Cat’s Eye could barely do it better – just look how even the cover aesthetic is spot on! But the band doesn’t let itself be defined by the moon-sized shadow of their mammoth overture. The album’s second half opens with a bang as “Katla” showcases that the members are far from being orthodox Dad Rockers, but also have experiences in other genres such as Metal and Stoner Rock. While the keys and guitars maintain the Floyd tone, the heavy riffs here also reach out into those particular areas and mix it with King Crimson Prog goodness in an actually very crushing, modern sounding manner.
The “Winter Song” then is a return to Pink Floyd worship, but it highlights a different aspect of their iconic sound, being a rather short, maybe a little to sweet ballad. It’s also the first instance where guitarist and main songwriter Christian Blaser sings. It’s not a sensational vocal performance, but it does what it’s supposed to. Which is kind of the motto of the whole track in context of the album: not bad, but clearly its least essential part.
Cranking up the volume the Heavy Psych stomp of “In My Dreams The Wind Chases Away The Clouds” will unify traditionalists and Post Rock fans, who may be oblivious to the true magnitude of the sound from half a century ago. A great piece!
The final track reminds of he who we should not talk too much about, Roger Waters. Not musically actually, but hey, it’s called “Lostlostlostlostlostlostlostlost”. No, the “Heroes” of this second song which features vocals are Iggy Pop and David Bowie dancing through Berlin. That’s exactly what it sounds like. Anyone who claims to describe it more on point is a liar or a snob.
Well, I’m not going to lie: The Empty Space Between A Seamount And Shock-Headed Julia doesn’t feel complete. It’s a very strong work, which doesn’t scream debut at all. But it misses… more. In good old Prog tradition there should really be an “Echoes”, another long track to bookend and balance it. I know that’s an entitled, perhaps quite cocky demand, but if your art provokes only that as a negative critique, you have surely done good.
In that spirit I doff my hat to you guys. This is a high recommendation not only for dogs, sheep, pigs on the wing and groups like RPWL or similar artists sprinkling Neoprog on their Psych, but any Rock fan who digs 70’s atmosphere in a timeless setting. The next time I encounter a black cat I will try to look it in the eye and pet it in your honour!