Thought-provoking concept album by Hungarian multi-instrumentalist
Heard with quiet intensity by Paul Quinton
Wet Rabbit is a project of Hungarian multi-instrumentalist Zoltan Sostai, and ‘Of Clocks And Clouds’ is the first album to be released under that name. It’s a concept album based largely on the work of the philosopher Karl Popper, whose work on human understanding is the basis of Sostai’s interest in artificial intelligence, although several of the tracks have a definite ecological theme. So far, so Prog.
Sostai himself plays and sings almost everything on the album, including guitars, synthesisers and drums, with only the assistance of Kinga Szabo on some of the piano parts. The press release that accompanies the album states that Sostai’s musical influences are Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis, and even the most cursory listen to the album will give you very little reason to disagree, although you could also add in Peter Gabriel as well as some of the more commercial electronica of the 1980s, which gives several of the tracks an unusual shading..
Opener ‘Easy If You Try’, for example, could easily have found itself on ‘Top of the Pops’ alongside Erasure and early Depeche Mode, although it doesn’t have the ubiquitous dance beat of that era. ‘No More Time’, on the other hand, starts as a gentler piano piece, before the electronica comes in, increasing the pace and the tension of the song. ‘Through The Storm’ is an instrumental, although there’s an electronically treated voice in the backing track, and while the song is merely OK on first listen, it does turn into something of an earworm; if Wet Rabbit play live, this would probably be a bit of a favourite. The instrumental ‘The Last Whale’, though is the second longest track on the album, over nine minutes worth and is probably the most Floydian track, but I’m not sure it holds the attention enough to justify being that long.
The centrepiece of the album is the twenty seven minute long ‘Kill The Robots, Parts 1-6’. Stylistically, it doesn’t differ from the rest of the album to any great degree, and is perhaps more of a song cycle than a single, unified piece of music. It’s well played, and the individual parts are fine in themselves, but I’m not sure it works as works as such a long track, there’s no musical thread, as opposed to a narrative one, that would give it more of a single identity, perhaps because a lot of the piece is instrumental.
The final track on the album is a cover of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Red Rain’, whose lyrics are entirely in keeping with the album’s theme. Perhaps oddly, it’s on this track that Wet Rabbit’s style really works, with the electronic elements giving it an extra dimension and it’s an interesting take on a familiar song. It does lead us to one issue with the album, in that Sostai’s voice will be very much an acquired taste for some listeners, and I’m afraid, as the album goes on, it does become a little monotonous, lacking in expression and depth. This could well be down to him singing in a second language, and in keeping with the album’s themes of robotics and artificial intelligence, but for future releases, he might do well to consider using other singers.
Overall, this is an interesting album, it’s well played and Sostai has plenty of good ideas. It’s listenable, without really grabbing you emotionally, and I think it would bear repeated listens, just to pick up the layers he has incorporated into his music. Even without a rethink on the vocals, this isn’t bad at all.
Of Clocks And Clouds currently available as a download from their Bandcamp site
6 out of 10
- Easy If You Try
- No More Time
- Through The Storm
- Of Clocks And Clouds
- Dark Rain
- The Last Whale
- As Here As Ever
- Kill The Robots, Parts 1-6
- Red Rain