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Reptiel - Down Below World (Cubby Control Records)

11 March 2024

Down Below World is the third in a series of sci-fi/fantasy concept albums from psychedelic proggers, Reptiel, which began with the wonderfully strangely named Hobbitozz…A Land That Never Was and continued with The Planet of Progkp. This latest instalment, and their fifth album overall, continues the journeys of Sine and his transgalactic guide, the Spirit Usher, and the result is an album which feels like the soundtrack to a cult TV production that combined the talents of the great and good and odd and out there, from Yes to Douglas Adams to Rush to Immanuel Velikovsky and sponsored by the people behind Oz Magazine or perhaps the controversial musical Hair.

But that’s enough namedropping; let’s get down to business. Well, where to begin? It is safe to say that Down Below World has one foot in sixties psychedelia, another in early prog rock, another in a sort of warped musical theatre sound score, one more in fifties TV sci-fi, and another occupying itself with a spot of avant-gardening.

Perhaps now we can see this five-legged beast for what it is, and why it seems to be pulling in so many directions and moving in the strange and off-kilter way that only a pentapedal sonic beast can. I would make a joke about the concept behind the album really having legs, but I fear that there just isn’t time.

Trying to describe specific songs, although perhaps sonic statements might be a better term, would prove fruitless. However, it is safe to say that if you like music that is at once ornate and complex, adventurous and experimental, nostalgic and broad-minded, genre-hopping (or perhaps genre-defying), and a little bit mad, you are going to find plenty to like here. Best you just go and play the album. Better still buy it, then play it.

The only things that I need to ask are: If this album, and indeed those that have gone before it, feel like the soundtrack to a stage show yet to be realized, how long do we have to wait for the multi-media feast to materialize, what snacks are available in the interval, and where can I pre-order my ticket? And not necessarily in that order.

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