Prior to its release, Outrageous Cherry group leader/songwriter/producer Matthew Smith once described this then-forthcoming album as "a space opera of sorts, very different from anything we've done," adding that it sounded like "Harry Nilsson with Hawkwind as the backup group." While that description doesn't exactly pan out here, this overly ambitious album does accurately reveal itself to be Smith's logical and somewhat experimental next step in blending a '70s AM radio bubblegum pop sound with a heavier, spacier rock vibe, then soaking it in a reverberating Spector-ized "Wall of Sound." This time, that vibe is so much heavier that it overshadows nearly everything else. The spoken word section of "Shadow of My Universe" is one example where Smith's "space opera" too often resembles a dystopian Futureworld nightmare, or an idealized hippie dream filtered -- not through rose-colored shades -- but the flames of a helter-skelterish hell. The somewhat sluggish "The Unseen Devourers" (during which Smith sings about "scorpion-shaped clouds outside my window") barely manages to claw its way in the murky darkness. Only occasionally, when a sunnier pop song breaks though those dark foreboding clouds -- the charming"Here Where the Stars Are Cracking Up" or the buoyant organ-driven "Wide Awake in the Spirit World" -- does the album's somewhat burdening mood lift. Nevertheless, The Book is still one of the band's best full-length releases, even though, at nearly 80 minutes, it is probably twice as long as it really needed to be. Though it was initially released on the Poptones U.K.-based label in the summer of 2001, The Book of Spectral Projections was later reissued by the New York-based Rainbow Quartz in April 2002.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Bryan Thomas