Plastic Overlords - Plastic Overlords

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Cracked Egg
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:06:00

This release from Plastic Overlords is very much influenced by UK rock - prog, psyche and punk, as well as a bit of 80s spunkier New Wave -- in other words as melding of the 60s, 70s and 80s, with an emphasis on the psychedelic 60s. Plastic Overlords are David (Alloy Now) Noel on bass, keyboards, guitar and vocals; Brad Johnson on drums; and Eric Hand on guitar. Take the opening track "A Moment Of Silence For Unsynchronized Watches." There is an infectious exuberance here that has the same energy as punk, and yet one gets early Pink Floyd-like sonicscapes that seem so serene (though in fact a great deal is early-Floyd-esque here in my opinion). I especially think the percussion on this track is cool - cymbals chiming like church bells that burst out of the mix. During the rockier parts, bass is the lead instrument, after voice. But guitar gets its moments, too, including screaming lead that draws us into the hazy, wavery psychedelic section. Snatches of lyrics that I can glean from this suggest to me clever and wry observations, and I know I heard the name Chaucer in there somewhere, and a reference to "grassy knolls" (Kennedy? English landscape?) In this mix is also a dirty, grinding section that made me think of Djam Karet circa Burning The Hard City (and later).

Even with its strong references to music of the 60s and the wry and humorous lyrics, it is anything but kitsch. "House Atreides," a reference to the classic sci-fi novel series from Robert Heinlein that includes Dune, is dramatic and serious sounding. Okay, not totally un-kitsch, as there is a track called "Plastic Overlords" which is one of those over-top-tracks even while it's underplayed. I don't exactly if this was their intention, but it is the equivalent of 60s sci-fi. I can just see these "Plastic Overlords" in their lamé suits and knee-high thick-soled space boots. Barbarella, Lost In Space and The Jetsons come to mind, along with some of the bizarre "future fashion" designs of the 50s and 60s -- all sharp angles and white loops encircling our arms to no purpose.

Another track that really stood out for me was "The Shade Of The Sun," which is groovy, rockin' tune -- that hit single that would have hit our airwaves had this been released in the 60s. Singalong choruses...I think of that first Deep Purple album ... um, well, of course, Shades Of Deep Purple. "White Plastic Pavilions" is the prog epic that non-prog bands were writing -- this is dramatic and serious, darker tones dominate though we also get those bell like chimes ("For whom the bell tolls..."). All instrumental, it conveys a somber feeling.

"The Number" is the track that most made me think of The Clash and of Elvis Costello a bit, but more so The Clash ... with psyche elements ... "Blue Cherry, White Hot" is heavy blues rock that harks back to the first track, even using some of the same sonic palette - this all instrumental.

The album closes with the spacey "Middle Earth." Guitars slide and shimmer in a psychedelic trip. The world is swirling and pulsating in neon colours. Yeh, you can almost see that video clip - live performance while a multi-hued backdrop is dropped in behind. Cameras zoom in, zoom out randomly and without purpose...

This is such a great album to listen to, even if it isn't perfect production-wise. Though, in that, it's perfect. And I'm not sure what would be imperfection, as it really does sound beautiful, capturing all the nuances. It captures an era that may not really have existed but for the music videos and people's selective recollections. This taps into the shared "belief" of what the late 60s were all about -- the impression many of us who weren't "there" have (regardless of whether we were old enough to have been "there" or not, and old enough to be "there" or not).

A Moment Of Silence For Unsynchronized Watches (8:06) / The Sunburst Going Sour? + House Atreides (7:46) / Plastic Overlords (4:46) / The Shade Of The Sun (3:00) / White Plastic Pavilions (6:12) / The Number (4:37) / Blue Cherry, White Hot (3:51) / Middle Earth (7:48)

David Noel - bass, keyboards, guitar, vocals
Brad Johnson - drums
Eric Hand - guitar
Greg Holter - bass (4, 5, 6)
Paul Bass - bass (8)
Pete Bass - drums (8)

Plastic Overlords (2000)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: February 23rd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 811
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]