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  • Writer's pictureSpyros Psarras

Album Review: Lives of The Ignorant, Pt.2 | Richard Self

The last couple of weeks the Sanctum has been honouring thematic albums and this post is no exception. Today I’ll be writing down my thoughts on Richard Self’s ‘Lives of The Ignorant Pt2’, a futuristic narrative about secret agents given through a series of vintage electro-pop pieces. Pressing PLAY>

‘Spectacular’ introduces the listener to our protagonist, agent 701, an expert in diplomacy, negotiation and politics, recruited to the ISS (Intergalactic Secret Service) 8 years ago. Dramatic, Sci-Fi synths and vintage kick-snares create an atmospheric melody under spoken word, ideal to put the audience into this Film Noir of the future. Before the opening passes the torch to the first actual track, 701 meets his female assistant, agent 390 and the adventure begins with ‘Blood’. Agent 701 ‘shows all the things we need to see in this galaxy’ over a super addictive synth melody repeating itself to eternity while gleaming keys and spacey ethers complete the image. The track is a powerful opener that reminds of old Daft-Punk even though a more polished vocal would skyrocket the whole thing. A thought that does not apply to the following ‘Softly Does It’ which has a subtle ‘80’s goth/pop’ quality and so the rawness feels like home together with the old-school instrumental. It’s amazing how nothing in the track gives away the fact that it’s a 2022 piece.

Same goes for the ridiculously charming ‘A Gentle Time’ where Self is joined by Allison Chamberlain to make a love ballad for the incurably romantic souls out there. Chamberlain’s simplistic approach works like a charm together with the mesmerising chords and emotionally abundant arrangements. ‘A Gentle Time’ feels like an earthly, Rock celebration of the love of 701 & 390 before the edgy ‘Messier 42’ hits the ground like an electrified comet, changing the soundscape radically with its piercing guitars and decisive beat. What’s most intriguing here is how the track is transforming from a Drum n' Bass – garage rehearsal into an escapist pop-structured anthem and back into its freestyle nature, all that in 7 and a half minutes. ‘Messier 42’ feels transcending and euphoric thanks to its reverberating vocals towards the end, and that puts it among the most significant moments of the album so far. ‘Love Again’ comes as a hit single from the past, a disco banger where -this time- the angelic voice of Chamberlain has completely surrendered to the sturdy beat as she lovingly sings: ‘There’s a universe to see, love again, love again’. This one fights with ‘Blood’ for the No1 position in the list of the album's most compelling tracks.

And then comes the mystical ‘Eulogy’ which manages to seduce my heart from its very first seconds. As Self is offering another part of the story through spoken word, an otherworldly female deity is chanting an ancient spell of protection over a magical harp in ‘Eulogy’. ‘I don’t want you to die’. ‘Eulogy’ is a short out-of-body experience which I hope would last longer. I repeat enough times to satisfy my hunger for the metaphysical, to remain in outer space for a little longer surrounded by healing life energy. Excellent. Now, a car crash followed by crying guitars open ‘Tonight’, a mighty electro-rock entry that reminded me of Depeche Mode for its grainy vocal effects and straightforward, full-blooded performance. Robbie Spillain joins Self to make -maybe- the most feverish moment of the album, one that goes among the Sanctum’s top3 for sure.

On the other hand, we are -once more- given tenderness and sentimentality through the ethereal ‘Numb’. Here we have an almost shoegaze instrumental made of celestial materials. The gleaming synths and bright chords combine with divine, echoing choirs, giving off a strong sense of redemption and liberation. If I had to describe ‘Numb’ with colours I’d go with white and gold. Time to Say Goodbye to heaven and land back to earth with a heartfelt promise to lay ghosts of the past to rest and -possibly- reconnect with someone truly beloved in another world: ‘I’ll see you again when I die’. ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ is short and personal, leaving the listener to wonder what’s the story behind it. A spacey interlude titled ‘What’s Like Being a God’ is succeeded by the closing ‘Sky Bound And Happy’, an upbeat, joyful electro-pop track that only leaves us with positive vibes and a promise for better days. Lisa Dever and Richard Self reassure each other that anything is possible as they are dancing the darkness away on fluffy clouds among the stars.

In a nutshell, Lives Of The Ignorant, Pt.2 is like a solar system consisted of 12 completely different worlds. Richard Self is traveling from the lush synths of ‘Blood’ to the fragile soundscapes of ‘A Gentle Time’, from the supernatural ‘Eulogy’ to the earthly, rock territories of ‘Tonight’. Even though cohesiveness is not the album’s strongest point, LOTI,Pt.2 definitely has the variety to satisfy everyone. However, it’s most interesting how the artist’s need for experimentation is reflected in a purely pop album at the same time we have actual experimental music out there that feels less daring. Apparently Richard Self knows that people grow old the moment they stop playing and so he chooses to remain young forever. Until next time! Cheers!

Enjoy Lives of The Ignorant, Pt.2:


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