CD Review: Ian Anderson – Homo Erraticus
All Access Rating: B+
|Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus 2014|
Highly literate, as the tale of Tull fan favorite Gerald Bostock continues to unfold, Homo Erraticus weaves dramatic storytelling, evocative language and curmudgeonly social commentary through oddball folk-flavored progressive-rock compositions that rival the edgy, but often charming, eccentricities of Thick As a Brick or Aqualung.
Wandering through Homo Erraticus takes hours, not a few minutes of simply cycling through 10-second bites, hoping something sparks a reaction, although "The Turnpike Inn" – bouncing with accordion breezes, although still vaguely unsettling – and "New Blood, Old Veins," so jaunty and spirited, are immediately appealing and compelling. More in keeping with the Tull of old and heavily influenced by Renaissance music, the sinister "Doggerland" and "The Pax Britannica" mix Old World classicism with slight electric rock dissonance and ever-evolving melodies, as Anderson's flute trills and flights of fancy grow ever more prominent.
When exploring Homo Erraticus, leave a trail of breadcrumbs. It's a maze of contradictions, with a great sense of musical and lyrical adventure that's not weighed down by its heavy intellect. Although songs flow easily, there are the occasional sharp turns, as Anderson and company – keyboardist John O'Hara, bassist David Goodier, guitarist Florian Opahle, drummer Scott Hammond and singer Ryan O'Donnell – stumble upon the solemn, church-like organ hymn "Meliora Sequamur" and slip into the soft, warm, colorful jazz instrumental "Tripudium Ad Bellum." And "Heavy Metals" and "In for a Pound" are beautifully rendered acoustic pieces, but there are lulls.
Though the verses of "Enter the Uninvited" are endearingly melodic, when Anderson simply reads off a list of banal pop culture references, fast-food joints and modern technological conveniences, it's a stale recitation that seems bereft of context. And then there's the dry creek bed known as "Puer Ferox Adventus," stagnant, lifeless and devoid of anything truly interesting, where with everywhere else there is natural movement and energy. Nevertheless, Homo Erraticus is theatrical, instrumentally diverse, dense with metaphor and description, full of historical treatises and it is surprisingly lighthearted – proof positive that Anderson is as playful and inventive as ever.
– Peter Lindblad