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FM - Surveillance CD (album) cover

SURVEILLANCE

FM

 

Prog Related

3.33 | 58 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars In the contrivance of memories, accuracy be damned, "Surveillance" was FM's follow up to the classic "Black Noise" release. For almost 40 years I paid it no mind, for I had seen the band around the time of its release and was appalled by the foul sci fi pop of "Rocket Roll" as well as the cover of "Things to Come", while probably not being quite ready for the esoteric pieces they may have performed from this album. The gulf between the exhilarating "Phasors on Stun" and "Rocket Roll" is as wide as any I can think of between opening numbers of "successive" releases.

That major misstep aside, this is actually far superior than I could have imagined. The vibe is pretty consistently upbeat, and cool enough to compensate for the seriousness of the lyrics. On the basis of the lightheartedness of this fare, it's hard to believe it's the same group that produced the foreboding epic "Black Noise" but, even more so, the relentlessly dark album "City of Fear" that followed. The best two tracks here occur back to back. "Seventh Heaven" is a thoroughly enjoyable self referential goodbye to the 1970s and look ahead to the 1980s. It also seems to have inspirited the entire early catalogue of Bahraini prog band OSIRIS who, if anything, improved on the blueprint. "Father Time" is a vivacious slightly jazzy number that is enriched by Hawkins' vocalizations in the break.

Several instrumentals amply manifest that the proggy FM is still around if truncated. "Horizons" and "Random Harvest" are a bit too similar but with plenty of oblique angles demarcated throughout to keep them fresh. "Destruction" is more complex, robust on the outside and tender within. Even "Shapes of things" is not as dire as my younger petulant self might have hastily decreed.

The main weaknesses of the album are that it lacks absolutely brilliant tracks that both "Black Noise" and "City of Fear" possessed in the plural, and that it might be a tad more keyboard dominated than an album by a band with an electric mandolinist has any right to be. It makes up for these by perhaps being the most consistent FM album of the early years, and, as such, "Surveillance" merits your scrutiny.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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