The Amorphous Androgynous – We Persuade Ourselves We Are Immortal review
Peter Hammill leads from front on Future Sound Of London offshoot, The Amorphous Androgynous
Often eschewing the traditional PR circus, The Amorphous Androgynous very much play things by their own rules. So this collaboration with Van der Graaf Generator frontman Peter Hammill may have been something of a soft release, it didn’t take long for the prog grapevine to click into gear, alerting fans that this was maybe something worth listening to. And boy, is We Persuade Ourselves We Are Immortal worth listening to.
For those not in the know, The Amorphous Androgynous are the proggy/psych arm of ambient dance outfit The Future Sound Of London, who had a hit with Papua New Guinea in 1991. The band’s prog credentials were writ large on their excellent 1994 album Lifeforms, which featured contributions from Robert Fripp, Klaus Schulze and Ozric Tentacles among others. AA had been active as a more organic progressive offshoot since 1993’s Tales Of Ephidrina, but began to overshadow FSOL with their series of mix CDs, A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind creating an inviting pool of prog, psych and ambient hybrids.
We Persuade Ourselves We Are Immortal sees the core AA duo of Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans enlist Hammill, along with saxophonist Brian Hopper, former Ian Gillan Band guitarist Ray Fenwick, Regal Worm’s Jarrod Gosling and, perhaps most amazingly, Paul Weller, for a deep dive into some of the most enjoyable prog you’ll hear these past 12 months.
The six-track release is built around the central title track, penned with Hammill, Weller and Fenwick. It’s a dreamy tune that builds around a highly catchy Hammill vocal refrain, some inspired Floydian sax breaks from Hopper and some deliciously fluid guitar from Weller and Fenwick.
The remaining five tracks act as variations on the main theme. How prog are they? Celestial choirs uplift, swathes of keyboards and strings float you away to far-flung places, and guitar lines reignite the main hook. Over it all, Hammill’s stunning and still-youthful vocal reigns supreme. It’s an utter delight.
Some may adopt an aloofness considering where Cobain and Dougans served their musical apprenticeship, or at the inclusion of Modfather Weller. In reality you’d have to be a particularly joyless individual, of which social media suggests there may be one or two out there in the prog community, not to find the music here as appealing as the fantastic none-more-prog cover artwork from Gavin Penn.
Do yourself a favour and indulge.