‘Under Stars’ is the third and final instalment in the multi-talented John Mitchell’s (It Bites, Kino, Frost*) Lonely Robot project. Accompanying Mitchell in the creation of this release are Craig Blundell on drums and Steve Vantsis who plays bass on some tracks.
As you may be aware, Mitchell is prolific in his output. The previous Lonely Robot recording was only released a couple of years ago and yet he still had time to release last year’s ‘Radio Voltaire’ by Kino. Although, to these ears at least, ‘Radio Voltaire’ was a tad disappointing, ‘Under Stars’ is a real return to form. In the press release, Mitchell admits to a liking for ’80s synth pop and that is evident here with some excellent keyboard work, almost ambient in places. Rather than taking the edge and heaviness from the songs, however, the keyboards enhance the whole and contribute to what are some excellent songs.
Aside from a couple of tracks that serve as the intro and outro (the latter ‘An Ending’ which brings both the album and the trilogy to a close and reprises the ‘Please Come Home Lonely Robot’ phrase from the first two releases,) and a slightly quirky instrumental in ‘Inside This Machine’, there are eight, quite superb, cuts that are up there with Mitchell’s best work.
The pick of these have to be ‘Ancient Ascendant’, which is built around a hard as granite riff; ‘Icarus’, which features some of the best of the keyboard work, is awash with melody and has a hook that ensnares you the very first listen; and ‘How Bright Is The Sun’, which has a gentle piano intro but builds to a soaring chorus with some stunning guitar and is beautifully performed.
As mentioned to earlier, I found ‘Radio Voltaire’ somewhat underwhelming and was concerned that, in the quest for quantity of output, Mitchell had lost some of the quality. However, this release has allayed those fears and then some. If you already own the first two parts to the trilogy, then you’ll doubtless need little persuasion as to the merits of this release. If Lonely Robot are new to you, however, do yourself a favour and check them out. You won’t be disappointed!
Review by Dave Uphill
26th April 2019
1) Terminal Earth
2) Ancient Ascendant
4) Under Stars
5) Authorship of Our Lives
6) The Signal
7) The Only Time I Don't Belong is Now
8) When Gravity Falls
9) How Bright is the Sun?
10) Inside This Machine
11) An Ending
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...up there with Mitchell’s best work."