Jan-Simon : There are eleven years between the debut and the sophomore album by Sons Of Alpha Centauri, so expectations were high. The British band did not sit on their hands all that time. They have been more than busy, collaborating with many bands, most notably Karma To Burn and Yawning Man. These collaborations were mostly filled with solid (desert) stoner rock, but the new album ‘Continuum’ is strikingly different because of the prominent role of the sound tapestries laid down by keyboard player Blake.
The result is like a hard rocking Tangerine Dream (whose second album happens to be called ‘Alpha Centauri’), a piece of “ambient progressive electronic alternative rock” – as the guys from Sons Of Alpha Centauri describe it themselves. The stoner influences are still there, but they are underneath a thick layer of synthesizers. ‘Jupiter’, the album’s first proper song is also strongly influenced by gothic doom in My Dying Bride style. The following ‘Solar Storm’ is a typical downtuned rifforama that perfectly illustrates the turmoil suggested by the song title. ‘Continuum’ turns out to be more like a progressive space rock album than stoner or even “normal” rock. A concept album even, with its eight songs illustrating a voyage to Jupiter and back again. As said, the emphasis is now more on a progressive synthesizer sound. The thrashing stoner style that made the band such a great sparring partner for Karma to Burn has gone for the most part, disappeared in cosmic dust. Just like the clear sequential numbering of the songs that was more or less the same as Karma to Burn’s: all songs have a title nowadays. It is as if the band reinvented itself. Okay, ‘Interstellar’ still has, like ‘Solar Storm’, a strong base of guitar riffing, but here we also see that not the guitar but the keyboards have become the lead instrument. The long closing piece ‘Return Voyage’ falls between two stools with its guitar sections and the wide meandering synths.
Does that make ‘Continuum’ a lesser album than Yawning Sons’ ‘Ceremony to the Sunset’ or the Karma To Burn singles trilogy? No, but it is a bit like trying to do splits without any proper gymnastic training. ‘Continuum’ is clearly different and it remains to be seen if longtime fans or those who know the band of the many splits will like this new sound. Different is not always better. There is only one way to find out: just try it.