I picked up Cosmograf's latest album The Man Left in Space, on a bit of a whim. A few people I know said it was pretty darn tootin' and that I should check it out (they also said that about Lifesigns, the less said about that the better). Anyhow, a prog concept album about a stranded astronaut, what could there be not to like?
Well, it is not really a concept album about a stranded astronaut (boo!). It has more high brow concepts about "exploring the themes of aspiration, achievement, and the failures that our quest sometimes brings" through the analogy of a man left behind in space on a mission to save mankind (or something like that). Personally I would have been happy with a stranded astronaut and evocative song titles like The Vacuum That I Fly Through and When The Air Runs Out lend themselves to this but the more esoteric concepts don't hurt the album.
Musically the album is very solid. Reminiscent of Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd in places, there are some wonderful moments here with excellent guitar and keyboard. At times it rocks out, at others it gets a bit funky, sometimes it is just atmospheric keyboard sweeps. Lovely. Lyrically though it sometimes clunks...
By and large the lyrics are fine but odd bits like Beautiful Treadmill (?) and rhyming "last man in space" with "human race" sounds as subtle as a brick through a windscreen, which is a big shame as by and large the writing is well thought out, thought provoking and flows nicely. Like a good book needs an editor, good albums need a producer and I believe it should not be the songwriter as they are too close to the creative process and cannot take that step back to see if their baby has flaws.
That said I would not let that put you off, the plusses of The Man Left in Space by far outweigh the odd minuses and I am certainly enjoying listening to the album, especially Aspire, Achieve and This Naked Endeavour, which are my stand out tracks.