Quantum Pig claim that they are, at the same time, ‘a prog band and not a prog band’ and mention influences as diverse as Carl Sagan, Queen, Maya Angelou, Frost*, Richard Buckminster Fuller and Hüsker Dü. Astronomy, science, classic and prog rock and punk as inspiration, intriguing to say the least. Quantum Pig is the brainchild of a duo, deriving from the London experimental music scene: multi-instrumentalist Ian Faragher and futurist/author Mark Stevenson. Partly because of this, the scope of the band is refreshingly wide. The band is no longer the side project of two musicians to satisfy their hunger for progressive rock music, the result is much greater than the sum of its parts. This debut album features an eclectic collection of pop, punk, rock and prog songs, created with a little help from established prog names like John Mitchell (mix) and super drummer Craig Blundell.
Songs of Industry and Sunshine is thematically strong, exploring the transition from the old world around us to the new one that’s emerging. Dealing with themes such as discovery, marginalisation and the search for meaning in times of uncertainty, but fortunately driven by hope and ambition. An excellent debut album by this band, with a clear division of tasks: Mark Stevenson is the main lyricist while Ian Faragher is largely responsible for the music of Quantum Pig.
Opener Statement of Intent immediately sets the tone, both musically and lyrically; “there goes the icecaps but at least we got a couple of submarines”. Mighty hits from Blundell accompany synthesizer sounds and vocals. In terms of intensity and anger this track could fit on, say, Pink Floyd’s Animals.
Citizen and State has already gained some popularity, being released as a single prior to the release of the album. An up-tempo song, it fits perfectly with the opening track in intensity, with Muse influences and somewhat punky and chaotic in character – refreshing. The longest track, Long Letter Home, clocks in at twelve minutes and consists of three parts: First True God In The Sky, Fear Of Drowning and Long Letter Home. The most ambitious song here, with lyrics that refer to the work of astronomer Carl Sagan, especially in Part 1, whereas Part 2 is quieter, more atmospheric, with noticeable Floyd/Gilmour influences, mainly due to the slow rhythm and guitar solo, followed by Part 3, where the well-known Steven Wilson ‘Wall of Sound’ returns. Great song, the best prog song on the album in my humble opinion.
“There’s light at the heart of darkness”, say the hopeful lyrics from The Shadows We Miss. The music is dark but also full of hope, a strong composition with head and tail, and once again those (minor) Floyd influences. In contrast, Things is quite short and powerful, with sharp lyrics and is probably the most poppy song on the album. “Things make the most noise, just before they die”, sung through a kind of bull-horn. In terms of energy and especially drums, it is strangely reminiscent of the heyday of Paul Weller’s The Jam. A considerable contrast to Keep Warm The Nation, a new highlight with a great guitar solo by John Mitchell and featuring Nick Barrett-like vocals. “We got trapped between the old world and the new”, once again the transition theme features lyrically. Dirty Old Engine is a great closing song, it’s on my mind most of the time these days. Quite an audacious move by the pair to end an otherwise relatively busy and noisy album musically with an atmospheric piece that, except for vocals and keyboards, has no other instrumentation. Extremely melancholy in nature, a requiem for the last remnants of the industrial revolution.
Modern prog with fine vocals and ditto instrumentation, strong compositions and intriguing lyrics. Not necessarily innovative but that’s not a prerequisite per sé. Echoes of Pink Floyd here and there (Long Letter Home, The Shadows We Miss), but also influences from Steven Wilson and Muse are audible. Surprisingly inventive use of keyboards as well and regularly a brilliant sounding catchy tune emerges. And let’s not forget ‘prog song of the year’ in the form of delicate closing track Dirty Old Engine and it’s majestic simplicity. Compliments also for the cover design which fits perfectly with the theme and the music of the duo: old factory halls, unused equipment, desolate emptiness. A bit on the short side perhaps, however, at 42 minutes, just enough for two sides of an LP. Despite its relative shortness, Songs of Industry and Sunshine is an excellent debut for the dashing duo of Faragher/Stevenson, more than worth listening too.
Apparently a second album seems to be already in the making, definitely something to look forward to.
01. Statement Of Intent (5:14)
02. Citizen And State (3:07)
03. Long Letter Home (11:59)
04. The Shadows We Miss (5:57)
05. Things (3:30)
06. Keep The Nation Warm (7:21)
07. Dirty Old Engine (4:51)
Total Time – 41:59
Ian Faragher – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Mark Stevenson – Vocals, Keyboards, Bass
Craig Blundell – Drums
John Mitchell – Guitar (track 6)
Andy Ross – Background Vocals (track 7)
Record Label: White Star Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 1st February 2019