SOUTHERN EMPIRE - Civilisation

Southern Empire - Civilisation

4 songs
70:01 minutes
***** **
Giant Electric Pea


I was intrigued when I received a promotional copy of Southern Empireís second album Civilisation. At only four tracks, this longplayer makes it to seventy minutes! Fans of the band should not be surprised, because the predecessor also already had very long songs! Southern Empire come from Australia, hence the name, and were founded by keyboard player Sean Timms after his previous progressive rock band Unitopia broke up in 2013.

The band was quickly signed to Giant Electric Pea and released their eponymous debut in 2016. Their label is most often associated with IQ, and therefore itís probably just normal that their music has a similar bent by combining modern progressive rock with a certain arena rock flair. The new album starts with the relatively short Goliathís Moon, at nine and a half minutes the only track in single digits minutes. Itís the first song for Southern Empire that has been written by the guitarist, and by the result of it, he should maybe be implied more often. This is a very atypical feelgood prog rock song with strange, cheesy lyrics about finding and losing a diamond on a moon in some faraway galaxy. The melody is very catchy and I always find myself smiling when I restart listening to the album. The following three songs, while also being full of different parts that show how broad the musiciansí horizons are, never seem though to come up with the same straightforward fun interpretation of prog. Cries For The Lonely, co-written by the drummer, is a song with more gravitas, or maybe I should write: pathos. At nearly twenty minutes, itís of course exactly what the spoiled prog brat is looking for. Even more self-indulgent is The Crossroads, a half hour track that was written for an abandoned Unitopia album. This song has it all, from tropical island flair to smarmy saxophone parts, plus some oriental melodies, taking you to a journey all over the world. Itís astonishing how many different genres can fit into thirty minutes of music, but it probably takes you a lot of run-throughs before you finally can follow this strange structure. The concluding Innocence & Fortune has been co-written by Samurai Of Progís Steve Unruh, and is at ten and a half minutes another "shorter" track. Despite its more concise structure, it doesnít come with the same verve as the incredibly great opener.

Civilisation is not a great album, although it is a very good one, and also an incredibly intriguing one. The long songs will make sure that whenever you come back, you will discover something new. The opener is already a classic, and more tracks of that calibre would have made Civilisation a modern masterwork. Maybe more of this will be possible in the future. I for my part will keep my eyes and ears open for more of these Down Under guys.

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