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The recent documentary regarding Alejandro Jodorowsky's failed attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's seminal novel Dune in the mid-1970s features a particularly harrowing yet also perversely inspiring moment. The Chilean director adopted a resolve of spiritual seriousness, enlisting the era's finest creative minds (Salvador Dali, a post Dark Side Pink Floyd, Moebius, and a pre-Alien HR Giger and Dan O'Bannon, to name a few). Jodorowsky imbued in all those involved the belief that they were working to create something truly special - he spoke of the source text of it in messianic, relevatory terms. Jodorowsky dreamed that the film would effect a sacred enlightenment in the global population, awakening consciousness and propelling humanity to a divine level.

At the last minute, funding was pulled and years of pre-production came to an end. Speaking of this moment, the face of Jodorowsky's smiling Buddha slips and an age-old anger rises: "This system makes slaves of us. Without dignity, without depth. With a devil in our pocket, this money, this shit. This paper with nothing inside. Movies have heart. They have mind. They have power. They have ambition. I wanted to do something like that. Why cannot I make Dune? Why not?"

What are we without ambition? Too easily our dreaming selves are co-opted to autonomous movement, expected causalities of interaction too often controlled, surveilled and pre-programmed. Like colonies of ants scurrying along predetermined lines we fall into the patterns ordained by the societies we live in, aspiring to only what is laid out for us to choose from. Our lives increasingly whittled away with corporate bread and circuses, everything is provided for, safe and approved. What place for the surreal in this increasingly privatised, ring-fenced suburbia? Jodorowsky traded in film, but he is talking about creative ambition. For musicians and artists, his words seem compelling when considering that strange phenomenon in popular music: the concept album. What more ambitious or accomplished creative effort can an artist of contemporary music make?

Concept albums can be divisive points in musician's back catalogues, with fans and critics either perceiving them as moments of genius akin to great literature or indulgent anomalies in an artists' otherwise coherent discography. Liars' 2006 LP Drum's Not Dead can be regarded as a work quite distinct from the surrounding releases; Janelle Monáe has released three records along a single concept. With Monáe, I can take songs and put them in playlists, mixtapes, cut catwalk videos to them, etc. Throughout her Archandroid series, the concept is a precondition - it exists as fully on individual songs as it does across the dynamic of an album. But the Liars album is almost impossible to split up, it demands to be played from beginning to end, as you would do with a film.

Of late, the narrative-based album has undergone a resurgence with bands like Teeth Of The Sea, Janelle Monáe and The Haxan Cloak composing grandiose conceptual releases, and The Mars Volta making an entire career from concept albums. But whilst it is common to see albums united around a single theme - take for example Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, Kendrick Lamaar's Good Kid M.A.A.D City or Danny Brown's XXX - do these albums really justify the tag of conceptual works? Can Woodie Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads be called a concept album when it features no reoccurring characters or unifying narrative structure? Is a stylistic or narrative theme the same as a concept? The danger is as well one of balance, wherein the execution of concept (opera, cinema and indeed dogma) overwhelms the potential for enjoyment. Liars' Salem witch trial album They Were Wrong So We Drowned suffers from this: it's intellectually engaging but in parts unlistenable.

If the above paragraphs read as a kind of meta-demonstration in 'how to thin an audience', then I am glad to have achieved a strange but appropriate introduction to a review of an album that is at once philosophically rich, immeasurably enjoyable and hugely ambitious - but one also that is inherently silly and will alienate vast swaths of listeners, their own fanbase included. Closure In Moscow's Pink Lemonade, the Australian band's second LP, surpasses what I expect of a concept album whilst providing many of this year's most breathtaking moments in rock music.

Pink Lemonade reflects the search for enlightenment in the age of instant gratification, of Tindr-savvy instamatic sexualities, of postmodern identities lost in the meaningless of modern existence, worn down with the expectations of success and the disappointment of realising a hollow myth for what it is. It speaks to a generation as knowledgeable of the Tibetan Book Of The Dead as with Diddy Kong Racing, more likely to seek spiritual edification through the consumption of Molly than through arduous meditation. Over Pink Lemonade's full hour (modest by prog rock standards), Closure In Moscow indulge to an sonic and conceptual excess that is both thrilling and ridiculous.

We are introduced first to the journey's protagonist, the unfortunate and theatrically titled Fool ("And now here we find the Fool cantankerously pant-less...") through the record's opening song. Thereupon a narrative ensues over the album's length, taking in this Fool's search for a quick-fix spiritual plenitude ("Everybody's reaching for that higher plane, so they can have Christmas magic again"). As with so many contemporary faux-mystics and desperate types, the doors of perception are offered seemingly open through cheap narcotic experience and the Alchemist who adorns the cover in clear homage to Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1973 film The Holy Mountain ("A soul like yours just clutching at straws will sip anything from them to bypass a door and if you're drenched in fear from my pink lemon shores you'll be knock, knock knocking forever more").

Pink Lemonade then comprises an extended hallucination, a trip of gargantuan, ibogaine proportions. There is much to explore here lyrically with lines of verse spoken from varying characters at points and the story at play never fulled elucidated through omnipotent narration: we're left only with an untrustworthy protagonist from whose perspective this hallucinatory journey unfolds. Whilst this review shall contain no significant spoilers to Pink Lemonade's story or resolution, we can speak of familiar themes and understood points of reference.

There seems to be an expectation within the concept album format that necessitates gravitas, or at least a seriousness when in discussion. Think the overarching narratives of The Mars Volta's debut album (drug addiction, lying in a coma, eventual suicide), second album (catholic sex abuse, failed abortions) Teeth of the Sea's Master (paranoid dystopia), Pink Floyd's The Wall (celebrity, drugs, ego) - but here Closure in Moscow take the search for the philosopher's stone and render it incomprehensibly daft. Lyrics, characters and themes may be heavily symbolic throughout the album, but they're also frequently hilarious: from the trans-universal intergalactic slut dressed in neoprene catsuit ("With that atomic attraction and a weapons grade touch, I bet she travelled through time just so she could get her fuck on"), parallel dimensions with talking dinosaurs suffering the pits of unrequited love ("Dear Swamp Ass"), appointments with a indifferent cosmic deity ("Brahmatron yawns at you, Brahmatron yawns at me too"), baptism at the hands of cyborg Jesus ("This here is the techno-communion... but you got to have faith-ah! You got to have faith!"). If it sounds absurd, that's because it is. But beyond the preposterous, this is an album that through its unreliable narrator confronts notions of identity, sexual desire and personal ambition. Don't most serious hallucinatory journeys end with soul-searching, as one tries to rationalise all those conversations with God? Don't the slurred revelations of an acid-bathed junkie glimmer with the faint light of wisdom? As a robot preacher at one point says to the Fool, "You're lost in your flesh, you covet the impermanent". Isn't that an eminently relatable summation of the crisis in postmodernity?

Whilst the lyrics and concept play out with a humour and depth, this execution would fail miserably were it not for rock music of the very highest standard. Closure In Moscow seemingly alienated half of their existing fan-base with this record, not solely for the depths of its creative indulgence: their first album and debut EP demonstrated a wholly different sound. But with the departure of two band members in the five years between first and second album, so too did the band abandon the hardcore math-rock and (dare I say it) emo-scene they had become associated with. Much in the same way that Fucked Up drew inspiration from the classic rock of the 60s and 70s on the 2011 album David Comes To Life, their sound is now characterised by blues-soaked riffing, psychedelia in vast swaths and all the heady excesses of progressive rock. Disappointment for those in the audience who are more concerned with how many time-signature changes a song can boast, but who can argue with the ambition or execution of musicianship here?

A theatrical element abides throughout. The album is rarely silent with samples and found-sound, theatrical scenes and sound effects providing transition between songs which themselves rarely stay still. Using the foundations of psychedelia and blues rock as a starting point, Pink Lemonade takes in funk, trip hop, 90s indie, gospel and opera, yet never seems incoherent. The tremendous heights reached in the crescendo of title track 'Pink Lemonade' are particularly impressive, the rhythm section blasting a dynamic punk thrash as guitars and vocalist strive to reach a climax ever higher. Guitars throughout are fairly clean, the band using few overdubs and remarkably staying true to the sound of five guys jamming. It's enormously pleasurable and gives the recordings here a common identity amidst the madness. Rarely do albums cater to the riffing guitarist quite as pleasingly as this, from the hazy bayou guitar licks and at the opening of That Brahmatron Song to the insane duelling guitar solos and stoner riffs of 'The Church Of The Technochrist'. That song is a particular highlight, the album having built to a point of release and finding it in an explosion of whiskey soaked guitarists jumping fifths, maddened gospel singing and the kind of prog-indulgence not since Yes recorded 'Changes'. It's a sonic catharsis at a vital point in the record, a Futurama-inspired cosmic metal. So much of this music is at once historically influenced yet repurposed here in a way that could only have been recorded now. I can hear the carefree stoner indie of 90s bands like Kula Shaker and Ocean Colour Scene coming to the fore as much as prog influences like The Mars Volta, Frank Zappa or King Crimson.

There's a sense of OK Computer for fleeting moments amidst the beautiful ballad 'Mauerbauertraurigkeit' - a seven minute jam that gives vocalist Christopher Du Cinque his finest among many fine moments on this record as he speaks to love lost "in a bountiful dwelling where I spend all my time getting high and feeling so worried out of my mind in my darkest throes, but you could be my open door". Moments later, the band cascades into a Do Make Say-esq languid afternoon jazz. When after opening his confused heart, the Fool offers "don't you know you're a lovely old soul?", it's a moment of genuine warmth, sung with real conviction. Throughout the album, while guitars wail to the left and right, Du Cinque's vocals are a genuine highlight: equal parts Elvis Presley (without the sentimentality), Mick Jagger (without so much arrogance) and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (without the falsetto), so many moments on this album boast wonderful inflictions of tone and melody: from the spit-versed gnarl in Neoprene Byzantine, the televangical address during 'Church Of The Technochrist''s delirious bridge, the defiant, sexual first verse of That Brahmatron Song or the ever-so-arrogant call and response in 'Dinosaur Boss Battle''s final movement. So much work has been wrought on the melodies at play here and a genuine progression has been made from the more conventional style adopted on their debut album. 'Happy Days' is a suitable finale both lyrically and musically, it's a light on the horizon, a new sunrise reached through arduous hallucination. Like the final scene of Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain, it cuts back and reveals, using the trope of 90s indie singalong in its coda to reach to epic heights. Cheesy? A little. Massively enjoyable and perfectly fitting? A devastatingly simple chord progression is blasted to stratospheric heights as Du Cinque wails 'My future is fine, my soul is a lady... I'm kissing the face of infinity" as the album reaches conclusion. It's an inspirational ending.

This record will not be for everyone - progressive rock isn't, and this isn't an album without flaws. Pitchfork writer Jess Harvell, in reviewing The Mars Volta's 2009 album Octohedron said "There's a certain kind of listener that, maybe once a year or maybe every day, wants music that sates the same impulse that makes people gorge on spectacle-scale cinema or devour the entire Dune series in a few weeks." The Dune reference here is entirely coincidental, but it's true that indulgent psychedelic concept albums with songs that frequently stretch the seven minute mark and feature extended segues of theatricality and found-sound will never be to everyone's taste. But what is so remarkable here is that Closure In Moscow have managed to take all of that avant-garde and progressive excess without compromise and make it hugely accessible. One could make a convincing argument for this being pop music, but does it matter? This is the sound of a band with the ambition to make a grand statement knowing the fallacies and shortcomings of making grand statements. I mean, it's an album about searching for enlightenment in a sugary hallucinogenic drink, and it knows how silly that all sounds.

Closure In Moscow haven't got a European record deal. They have no PR here. From what I can tell, they've only played one small tour around the UK in the early part of last year - travelling to places like Plymouth, Rugby and Bridgend to get gigs. This album came out in May and I can't see that it's gained much press on these shores whatsoever. There is the well-worn myth about Australian bands having it more difficult than British or American bands, that they don't export as well, but it's hard to justify that in a technologised, ever-connected global community. It seems particularly cruel that artists sorely lacking in creative imagination can go platinum worldwide with depressing regularity yet a band displaying the kind of ambition shown here should come up lacking any kind of European representation. To my mind, this seems quite akin to Alejandro Jodorowsky encountering dumbfounded studio executives when seeking funding, trying to find the producer who'd take a chance on psychedelic excess. One man's madness is another's wisdom, but among the absurdities is that most vital facet: ambition.

Pink Lemonade was recently released on a limited edition vinyl (it sounds spectacular) and is available from the band's web store. While you think about that, the album is available for a full stream over on Closure In Moscow's bandcamp page.

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