Label: ATIC Records Release date: 28/09/09 Website: MySpace Buy: Amazon Woah. I appear to have woken up in a fictional representation of the1960s. The druids live again, and everyone is walking around in a permanent weed-dream, complete with visualisations of famous historical figures and…flies. Am I at Glastonbury? Woodstock? No, I’m listening to The Witch and the Robot’s album. On Safari is perfectly named. Over the album, the listener is taken on a psychedelic journey through strange composite worlds, seeing strange composite sights and hearing strange composite noises. The first track begins with a trip back into a History lesson when you were eight – “Divorced beheaded died, divorced beheaded survived” – and goes on to describe giant’s graves at illegal raves. Varied percussion dusts the track, and for an opening song, it sure is a sing-along bit of fun. When the opening lyrics to the next track arrive, called ‘The Beatification of St Thomas Aquinas’ if you can believe that, the idea that The Witch and the Robot are a little tongue in cheek is confirmed. (Fitting “Like Theologans grasping at straws for reasons to be edified” into an 8-syllable line isn’t something a dead serious band would do, is it?) The vocals are decidedly under-produced, if that’s how you want to put it, although they aren’t a negative aspect, and where the soft folk-singing recedes into shouting, there is something great about it – probably because it’s parody done well. This is definitely a folk album. I have heard it referred to as ‘freak folk’, but I feel it is too well constructed to be associated with a novelty genre title. The only ‘freakiness’ about it are the often bizarre lyrics and singing. It reminds of the Incredible String Band in its psychedelic beats and echo, combined with passages of precise finger-picking on guitars and sweet melodies on other instruments, as well as out-there lyrics. Although it fits together well as a whole album, my favourite has to be the aforementioned ‘The Beatification of St Thomas Aquinas’, for its tender chords and its descent into Radiohead-style prog-rock and children’s TV programme noises towards the end. I also like the ridiculousness of Sex Music (Beef on Wax), which goes through various stages of development, including a monologue over a guitar and tin whistle tune, a monologue over a sad piano part and an absurd patch of “Baby playing sex music all night long!” screamed over guitar strumming and…pan-hitting? I’ve made On Safari out to be one long joke. It’s not – it’s music for listening to and appreciating, with its funny moments. Unfortunately, it gets a little samey throughout, and it’s not as original as it thinks it is, after you get past the Thomas Aquinas and crocodile references. It’s a nice, listenable album with lyrics which may or may not be as nonsensical as they sound. Ask.com could probably tell you. Rating: 7/10