Occasionally a CD lands in the ‘In’ pile that I know nothing about whatsoever, and it can be a refreshing change of pace to dive in unaware of what’s to come upon popping it in and pressing play. Such was the case with the eponymous debut album from American spacey progressive rock outfit There Is No Time. The brainchild of singer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Boros, and augmented by strong playing from Jerry King (Cloud Over Jupiter) on guitar and bass, the platter is a unique collection of sometimes mysterious cosmic ditties that traverse a variety of styles. Healthy doses of mellotron enrich these strong themes, but this is not a ‘proggy keyboard’ album. Rather, a balanced approach to the lead instruments (and a good mix) highlights its strengths.
Eschewing modern prog-rock norms, there are no ‘epics’ here, or lengthy, dry showcases of technical prowess. The 11 tracks are tight and concise, and rely heavily on mood and texture to deliver some memorable pieces – in fact, a few of these became earworms rather quickly. There’s an irregular sound to Boros’ vocals that took a few spins to adjust to, an almost latter-day ‘Ozzy’-sounding double-tracked thing that some could find off-putting on the first spin, but which gradually falls into place and sits comfortably alongside the music. Of course, there’s an air of authenticity about a singer delivering their own songs that can’t be replicated when they’re handed over to someone else. Most notable about There Is No Time is the introspective vibe of the songwriting. One easily imagines lying in the midnight grass and contemplating life here on Earth, life elsewhere, and the vastness of the sprawling universe. As a sucker for that kind of thing myself, the themes of this album were an easy sell.
Boros plucks some fine melodies from the air and manages to build several robust pieces around them that outshine the others. The hypnotic title track, for instance, with its Peter Hammill flavours, the singer-songwriter feel of On The List and For You, or the rocking energy of album highlight Observers. Leadoff track (and advance single) Better Than Here is a good indication of the essence of the album: dark and mysterious, but surprisingly catchy. The Interlude is a laid-back but rather likable instrumental that builds on a simple theme – I would like to have heard at least one more of these. Stirring closer Sunless Sun crowns the album effectively, and at a sensible 44 minutes, there’s never a feeling of this release overstaying its welcome.
Ultimately, this debut album succeeds, although a dose of fun sprinkled here and there wouldn’t hurt anybody. While I appreciate the earnest sincerity, I suspect the almost relentless intensity will nudge the album into the Gotta Be In The Mood For It category. But then, many of my favourite albums fall under that umbrella, and the good news is that when that mood does strike, There Is No Time may well prove to be a pretty damn effective selection. This is a fine batch of songs with enough embellishments to keep the listener engaged… especially on a clear, starry night with a drink in hand. Check it out!
There Is No Time is released 11 June on CD and cassette.