17-06-2024 Music 2451

The Speed of Sound - Mind Palace

The Speed of Sound - Mind Palace

Manchester indie rock / power pop outfit The Speed Of Sound present 'Mind Palace', a bright uplifting track delving into dementia and identity loss. This is the latest audio-visual offering from their new album 'A Cornucopia: Minerva'. The focus point of the three-volume set 'A Cornucopia: Minerva, Victory, Bounty', this is the band's second release via California-based cult label Big Stir Records.

Throughout their history, The Speed Of Sound have continuously produced music laced with optimism and lyrical bite, tapping the DIY ethos of punk and the restless lust for experimentation of psychedelia. Formed in 1989 with a pre-history dating back to the day Andy Warhol died in 1987, their music has always been idiosyncratic, counter-intuitive and perpetually looking for something new. Today The Speed of Sound is made up of father and son John Armstrong (guitars and vocals) and Henry Armstrong (keyboards), Ann-Marie Crowley (vocals and guitar), Kevin Roache (bass guitar) and John Broadhurst (drums).

Full of ambition, energy, and eccentric melodic brilliance, these future-retro-modernist garage-psych stalwarts have released this new three-album collection on vinyl and CD under the umbrella title 'A Cornucopia'. In essence, 'Minerva' is being released as a deluxe edition that includes two full-length bonus albums - 'Victory' and 'Bounty'. Earlier, they shared the hauntingly spacious 'Trickledown', the stratospherically vast 'The Great Acceleration' and 'West Wind', where a recklessly fast Bo Diddley rhythm merges with a Wagnerian horn section.

On 'Mind Palace', brisk pure pop power and harmony propel this homage to individual identity, memory and self-awareness - not the dull re-run memory of nostalgia, but the interactive memory that makes up a person's essence. Sparked by a visit to Sintra Palace in Portugal and recalling a Sherlock Holmes memory-file technique, 'Mind Palace' ponders the loss of self with fading memory as the 12-string chimes and canters.

Frontman John Armstrong explains, “The possibility of loss of individuality - loss of self - whether that be via dementia or an absorption into prevailing tastes is at the core of 'Mind Palace', its rapid onrush of pace reflects the spiral of water draining away. It celebrates the power of independence, not mere Deliberate Contrarianism but of self, and not deriving self worth from a relationship with mainstream culture.”

With 'A Cornucopia: Minerva' marking the band’s 35th anniversary, The Speed Of Sound returns triumphant, defiant and redemptive, following their 2021 critically acclaimed album 'Museum Of Tomorrow'. Named for the goddess associated with wisdom, the arts and strategic warfare, this album explores themes of resistance to mainstream cultural dominance, championing individual identity and artistic creativity whilst being a vigorous musical celebration of subcultural existence in the face of predominantly bland pop culture.

Each of the album's 14 kaleidoscopic tracks burst of radio-friendly technicolor, from the stripped back mediaeval folk-tinged starkness of 'The Harvest' to the acoustic guitar-driven groove of 'SS-100-X', from the spacious iridescence of 'Eight Fourteen Monday' to the lively ascendence of 'The Party Sniper' and the glowing radioactivity metaphor of 'Half Life'. While the bouncing vibe of 'Bodysnatchers' reminds us to stay awake and not slip into the drabness of normalcy, the crunching melodic punch of 'Clickbait' zings into the typewriter introduction of 'Yet Another Tuesday'. Then there is the punkifed rhythm and blues of 'So Faux' and the closing acoustic riot of 'Question Time'.

With their inbuilt eclectic and genre-defying style, The Speed Of Sound expand from their base-camp foundation of 1960s, punk and new wave influences, encompassing wide dynamic and stylistic variation, crossing borders and pushing boundaries at every opportunity while retaining continuity. Their music bursts with experimentation whilst retaining hooks and melodic sensibility, plus sharp barbed wit, lyrical depth and all-pervading sense of joy.

Irrespressible and uplifting, The Speed Of Sound have continuously produced music laced with optimism and lyrical bite, tapping the DIY ethos of punk and the restless lust for experimentation of psychedelia. Formed in 1989 with a pre-history dating back to the day Andy Warhol died in 1987, their music has always been idiosyncratic, counter-intuitive and perpetually looking for something new.

The 'Minerva' album is out now, available everywhere digitally, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp, and also on CD and vinyl. The 'Bounty' and 'Victory' albums will see digital editions over the next year.


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