Seventh Wave - Psi-Fi [Esoteric Records - 2018]Psi-Fi was the second & final album from Seventh Wave- the UK pop-prog/ genre-gentric project centered around Keyboard player/ singer Ken Elliot, and percussionist Kieran O'Connor. Originally released in 1975, the album saw the project adding in early & often showy synthpop/ new- wave edges to the bands often buoyant & tuneful prog sound. Here on Esoteric Records- Cherry Reds prog-focused sub-label we get a recent remastered & expanded CD of the album.
Seventh Wave where formed in the mid 70’s by Elliot and O'Connor - the pair had originally met in progressive/ psychedelic group Second Hand, who released one of the classic slices of strange and unpredictable prog with their second & sadly final album for the project 1971’s Death May Be Your Santa Claus( also reissued on Esoteric). I've recently reviewed Seventh Wave first album 1974’s Things To Come, which felt sadly a little unbalanced & muddled in it’s blend of pop-prog dramatics & often unfocused synth scaping. That first album felt very much like the work of a two-piece; so thankful this album manages to sidestep many of the issues of the first album, as well as adding in a few more band members- giving the whole thing a more ‘band’ feel.
The original album took in ten tracks- and with this reissue, we get the addition of two extra tracks-so the album now has a runtime of fifty-three minutes. Kicking the album off we have “Return To Foreverland” which is best described as a cross blend of pop-prog, buoyant new wave, and gospel backing vocal tinged early synth-pop- feeling very much along the lines of a more showy & bright take on Yes's Drama album, which of course this predated. As we move through the album we come to “Manifestations”- which feels like a strange crossbreed between Heaven 17( with the showy female gospel backing vocals) & more upbeat symphonic prog of ELP. Midway through the album, we have one the longest track here “Only The Beginning”- this just over eight-minute track blends together squelching synth funk, a big choruses that feels somewhere between ethnic pop/ synth new romantic, with some mean & slinky synth guitar interplay/ ethnic percussive interplay along the way. Overall aside from one or two tracks, there’s a real feeling that the pair is really trying to write- proper songs, instead of excise in ego stroking or have developed ideas.
As I mentioned in my review of Things To Come, I had been a huge fan of Death May Be Your Santa Claus( second Hands last album)- and I must admit Psi-Fi really sees the band recapturing the flare for blending genres together in a most appealing, and a times quirkily creative manner. Sure as an album Psi-Fi is more buoyant & bright than Death May Be Your Santa Claus….but thankful this never becomes too cloying.
For this reissue we get a glossy 16-page inlay booklet- this features a new eight-page write-up on the album & the band by Malcolm Dome. As well as a selection of fairly quickly & showy pics of the band themselves. We also get full lyrics too. The remastering is very nicely done, with a good balance between the different layers of synth & percussive detail, along with the more common garden rock instrumentation.
The two bonus comes in the form of a shorter single version of “Manifestations”, and “Only The Beginning (Part 1)”- which is seemingly once again a shorter single version of the album track- these are interesting enough, showing how the bands sound could be put into more easily accessible pop format.
So, in conclusion, Psi-Fi is far more focused & balanced album than Things To Come, and it really does show Elliot and O'Connor flair for creative genre-blending, and writing interesting pop-prog/ early synth pop. So it’s sad that this was the final release under the Seventh Wave name- as it would have been great to have heard what they’d have moved onto by a third release.Roger Batty