A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer was Gandalf’s Fist’s fourth album, released in 2013. An enjoyable sci-fi musical romp based on signals from a stricken vessel on the edge of a wormhole and assembled by “the best signal decoders across all known dimensional rifts”. Played on instruments found in said craft, this is a great space/progressive rock concept.
Well, Dean Marsh and his merry band of space cadet minstrels decided to remaster and update this album for the futuristic listeners of 2017 by adding, for example, real cellos and violins and including a hitherto left off track, The Stowaway and The Endless Night. This adds a further narrative and clues from whence the signal came – some great guitar work here with stellar performances by all of the spacemen, with a timeless production that really will sound fresh in light years to come, and this applies to all of the files here.
Opening with a radio drama scene setter, we know it’s 2520 and Mark Benton orates the story so far, with a timbre of accent that hints at Red Dwarf’s Lister, before we launch into The Nine Billion Names of God. Never to drift from the tale’s genre, this title taken from Arthur C. Clarke’s short story where all the stars “went out” after God’s nomenclatures were completed, so the many suns fade as the wormhole is entered. Guest astronaut Andy Bolper Floyds it up with some weightless sax playing and this track is redolent of the many styles within this band, with the folk and rock pushed to the forefront and again on The Battle for Tannhäuser Gate where the violin leads the fleet.
However, the heavier elements are never far from the dock door as Stefan Hepe’s drums show on Orphans of The Sky, contrasting with the beautifully sung ballad Somewhere Beyond the Stars, Melissa Hollick at her furthest apogee here.
A Universal Wanderer and Nexus further progrockets the listener past the inevitable gravitational pull of the black hole, with some travelling synth, guitar, and sax solos leading to the Tolkien-esque North of the Wall.
The last section of spoken word is Ghosts of Spacetime and it’s as good as Blade Runner’s Tears in Rain, and in keeping the movie theme, The Wanderer Goes South ends the recording on an optimistic Dark Star resignation of the situation where high spirits dematerialise with hope.
Sonorous, imposing and widescreen, this is an album to be listened to as if in the cinema. The story is absorbing and attention keeping thanks to the many textures provided by the range of vocalists, especially the ladies who sing from the heart. Their sense of loss is portrayed with despair and alacrity in equal measure.
The frequency technicians have indeed worked tirelessly re-calibrating their devices. It is our mission to “comprehend the secrets of its origin”, be that by searching the universe or simply purchasing the many DigiPak variations available from their intergalactic web site, but be warned, A Visitation of The Mushroom People means that they’re not necessarily fungis to be with…
01. Another Night on the Far Side of the Universe (1:54)
02. The Nine Billion Names of God (7:56)
03. Where’s A Bloody Escape Pod When You Need One? (0:26)
04. Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet (4:38)
05. Message Home (0:54)
06. Somewhere Beyond the Stars (4:26)
07. Orphans of the Sky (7:04)
08. A Visitation of the Mushroom People (0:58)
09. The Stowaway and the Endless Night (11:41)
10. A Universal Wanderer (4:33)
11. Nexus (4:40)
12. North of the Wall (3:07)
13. The Battle For Tannhäuser Gate (5:12)
14. Ghosts of Spacetime (0:56)
15. The Wanderer Goes South (8:48)
Total Time – 66:41
Dean Marsh – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Luke Severn – Vocals
Stefan Hepe – Drums
Christopher Ewen – Bass
Mark Benton – The Voice of The Captain
Melissa Hollick – Lead & Backing Vocals
Alicia Marsh – The Voice of the Ship’s Computer
William Stewart – Violins (on The Battle for Tannhäuser Gate)
Natasha Jaffe – Cello (on North of the Wall)
Andy Bolper – Saxophone
Davor Bušic – Flute (on The 9 Billion Names of God)
Suzanne Weller – Flute (on The Wanderer Goes South)
Beccie Watson, Jennifer Pederson, Dying Seed – Additional Vocals
Thomas Huth – Cover Artwork
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Original Release: 2013
Date of Reissue: 18th September 2017