Nektar’s third and most intriguing American release, Recycled, superbly incorporates electronic elements into a solid rock foundation while eschewing the gimmickry that partially marred last year’s Down to Earth. If you fail to respond to the rich, tightly knit sonic landscape on Recycled, then the person next to you should call an embalmer.
The group’s high-powered instrumentation, emotive vocals, and frequent changes in melody and meter account for much of the album’s impact; state-of-the-art production and engineering prove to be a big plus as well. But the largest kudos should go to guest artist Larry Fast, who caused a stir last year with his own Synergy album. Fast’s perfectly attuned Moog arrangements and performances here produce one of the best marriages of rock and electronics ever and leave little doubt as to why the keyboard wizard has since been named as the group’s sixth full-time member.
Like the tunes on 1974’s Remember the Future (which told of a winged creature that might well have been dubbed “Jonathan Livingston Bluebird”), Recycled‘s songs present a story that seems trivial and cryptic. According to a record company press release, it represents “a multifaceted excursion into an ominous future brought on by runaway technology”; but if you ask me, a lot of this is gibberish brought on by a runaway mouth.
In “Unendless Imagination,” for instance, we hear, “Do you see the ruins of a life that’s gone by? / Built upon by burning towers lighting the sky.” And “Automation Horrorscope,” which strongly recalls the Moody Blues’ “In the Beginning,” includes such unfortunate mouthfuls as “Webs of concrete giving off waste dust that marks the search of an age of a thousand vast empires sweeping away legends untold to human ears.”
Hearing such vacuous verbiage for the first time, I reacted by doubting the album’s worth. Before long, however, its infectious music had won me over. The sound of the voices became more important than the words that they phrased. And I replaced my critical “What does it mean?” with a satisfied “Who cares?”