Amorphous Androgynous

The Mello Hippo Disco Show

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Although Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain made their first mainstream splash under the project name the Future Sound of London in the electronica-happy 1990s, the pair had previously worked together under a variety of names, including a 1992 album released as the Amorphous Androgynous. Following a several-year-long break, Dougans and Cobain started anew as Amorphous Androgynous (no definite article this time) and released an album heavily influenced by vintage U.K. psychedelia, 2002's The Isness & the Otherness. The lengthy 2003 EP The Mello Hippo Disco Show is vaguely thematically connected to that album: a song by that title had appeared on the album, though it's found here only as the source material for the lyrics that appear on several of the songs and as the basis for the very different remixes ("Jacknife Lee Mix" and "Hippo-Drone"). Overall, these eight songs work best as a half-hour-plus suite that incorporates recurrent musical and lyrical themes, but what's most striking is how different this material is from the Future Sound of London releases. Dougans and Cobain had always felt an affinity for the sound of vintage psychedelia and progressive rock -- many of the Future Sound of London's releases for Virgin Records featured the label's old mid-'70s Roger Dean-designed logo -- but The Mello Hippo Disco Show brings in groovy acid rock guitar solos, flutes, harps, oboes, string sections, a Mellotron, and a small female choir just to get that full Pink Floyd-meets-Gong effect going. There's even a sprinkling of sitar on the extra-trippy "Hippo-Drone"! Those expecting more of Future Sound of London's ambient dance spaciness may be disappointed, but overall, The Mello Hippo Disco Show is an appealing mixture of progressive rock's past and present.

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