Todd Dillingham

Vast Empty Spaces

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1994's Vast Empty Spaces is about as close as '90s British progressive music gets to the twisty art rock of '70s Canterbury bands like Hatfield and the North. That specifically Canterbury mix of progressive explorations, surreal humor, and most crucially, unexpected and psychedelicized pop hooks is all over this album, which Todd Dillingham recorded with drummer Andy Ward, keyboardist Peter Giles, bassist Mike Wedgwood, and violinist Anthony Aldridge, a sort of Canterbury All-Stars. The album alternates between long and impressively varied multipart suites and shorter pieces of quirky art-pop like "Animal Bizarre," which marries a catchy acoustic tune with wayward and at times nearly inaudible vocals like some sort of cross between Syd Barrett and Robyn Hitchcock, and the brief but memorable "Rely On Me." The slowly unfolding space rock of "Up the Ass of a Swan" and the atmospheric closer "Where Is the Brave" are the album's twin highlights, but the entire record is a satisfying blend of the progressive and the poppy.

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