Here comes the part of this review lark I hate the most, namely being critical of folks who are clearly possessed of far more musical ability and talent than I possess, as well as having the courage to launch their vision into the world for all to see. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, let alone recommend it to others. That’s the way it goes.
On the face of it, there should be plenty for me to like about ‘Refugeeum’, a nine track near hour of self declared “New Wave of Heavy Psychedelic Space Rock”, after all, I like many things heavy and psychedelic, and anyone who’s had the dubious honour of seeing me try to dance at a Hawkwind gig will know, I’m not averse to a bit of Space Rock. What’s more, in the very extensive P.R. blurb that arrived with the fantastically presented and packaged CD with its grim cover of a desert bound refugee camp, the album is a near concept work on the global issues of displacement and loss, a worthy subject indeed. However, things started to fall about when I played the actual music. Yes, it is beautifully and cleanly engineered; yes, it is obvious that all the musicians who contributed to the album are at the top of their games; yes the subject matter is worthy, and clearly lends itself to a dark and atmospheric work. The trouble is that after repeated listens, the album made no impression on me beyond the fact that I’ve lost several hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Each of the nine tracks just drags past like a fortunately unreleased Coldplay song (yes, I’ve seen them live, but my excuse was that I was working and being paid), creating nothing more than a feeling of elation that it had finished, and the desire to find a thesaurus to look up synonyms for monotonous. I have genuinely listened to this album repeatedly in the hope of finding something to like in it, but even having just finished yet another play immediately before typing this review, I couldn’t tell one track from the other.
Now there may well be folks who will disagree with me, and reckon that ‘Refugeeum’ is a great piece of atmospheric Prog rock, but I imagine those are the same folks who would find Marillion too heavy and edgy for them, or think that the best thing Pink Floyd produced was ‘The Endless River’. To those people I say enjoy Black Space Riders; to everyone else I say, have more fun, go and watch some paint dry.