Ian Anderson

Homo Erraticus

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Two years after Thick as a Brick 2, an explicit 2012 sequel to the 1972 prog classic, Ian Anderson embarked on another ambitious journey, this time assembling a concept record called Homo Erraticus. A loose -- very loose -- album based on a "dusty, unpublished manuscript, written by local amateur historian Ernest T. Parritt (1873-1928)," Homo Erraticus is an old-fashioned prog record: it has narrative heft and ideas tied to the '70s, where jazz, classical, folk, orchestral pop, and rock all commingled in a thick, murky soup. Divorced from Tull, Anderson favors fruitiness -- he likes ripe melodies and baroque arrangements that showcase either his flute or the dexterity of his band -- and if the music by and large isn't as forceful as Aqualung, partially due to the absence of muscular musicians, it nevertheless demonstrates a clear-eyed conception that is in the same lineage. Yes, the production on Homo Erraticus is too precise -- there's too much air, there's too much room to roam, decisions that diminish the impact of the music -- but the contours of the compositions deliberately and delicately recall classic Tull, so Homo Erraticus winds up satisfying: it's as close to '70s prog as is possible in 2014.

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