Tope’s Sphere 2 – Orange Clocks
Well I suppose I have to thank Dan Lockart for introducing me to this 7 piece band from Northamptonshire in England who go by the name of Orange Clocks, having stumbled upon his post of this concept album in his prog rock group on Facebook.
I have to say the story behind the concept of Tope’s Sphere is certainly a most fascinating one, in that it’s based around an idea of a children’s animated series that was destined to be screened on German television back in 1973.
Even more clever is how they have presented the whole thing in the way of a spoof which came from the genius mind of the bands keyboard player Thomas Hunt.
To show you exactly what I mean. I have posted Hunt’s own words here in Orange.
Originally devised in 1973 by eccentric producer Tomska R Huntley and destined for German TV, Tope’s Sphere was set to be a ground-breaking animation featuring a live soundtrack by 1970’s UK/Germany supergroup, Klementine Uhren.
The series followed Tope, the knitted monkey protagonist, with his sidekick Chode on their outer-space adventures accompanied by lush layers of psychedelic music. Unfortunately for Tomska, Klementine Uhren were unhappy with the final mixes.
They promptly disappeared with all the tapes for an ‘extended session’, never to be seen again. Tomska was bankrupted and his dreams shattered; he dumped what was left from Tope’s Sphere into a skip and vanished into the depths of the Himalayan mountains.
After the discovery of the fragments of video tape, stage props and art from Tope’s Sphere, Russ Russell (Producer Extraordinaire of Parlour Studios) recruited Orange Clocks to re-imagine the soundtrack, taking what details they could find from the scraps of script rescued from the skip to bring the unique comic-book adventure back to life.
But I suppose the most amazing thing about it all, is the fact that the whole way they have done the actual album, does sound like it came from the 70’s.
The band Orange Clocks have been together for a couple of years now though the 7 band members that make it up have played in many other incarnations and other bands for many hazy years so they say. The band itself consist of the following:
Derek Cotter: (Bass, Vocals)
Tom Hunt: (Synthesiser, Vocals)
Ja Lee: (Samples and Sounds)
Stuart Paterson: (Guitar)
Martin Winsley: (Vocals, Narration and Percussion)
Dan Merrills: (Guitar)
The Album Review…
The album Tope’s Spear 2 by Orange Clocks is the bands debut album and was released on the 3rd of March 2017. For those who are wondering where Tope’s Spear 1 is, there is not one, and my own observation is that they used the number 2 because the first one was done by the spoof band they made up who went by the name of Klementine Uhren. All the material written for the album is credited to the band Orange Clocks.
The album itself contains 20 short tracks that have been all mixed together like 1 track to put across the none stop story they are presenting, and has a total playing time of 30 and half minutes.
The concept story behind it all is quite a magical kiddies adventure in space. But done with a bit of adult humour, and is perhaps a bit like a cross between the children’s TV animated series of the Clangers and the radio series of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.
The story itself starts off with Tope and his best friend Chode going about their day to day lives on there own planet of Trintar. Having playful fun eating ice creams and flying around in their magical spheres. When all of a sudden they are alerted by an SOS signal.
Upon investigating they get ambushed and Tope’s best friend Chode gets kidnapped by the evil Cromp and his cronies. Tope is left with the task to rescue his best friend.
However childish the story may appear the band present it in the form of a space rock opera and it’s superbly narrated by the bands Martin Winsley. Adding to the fire is some very well crafted music and songs that make the whole thing that more enjoyable.
Though album mainly consists of short tracks some of the more lengthier tracks are more song based and the highlights are “Trouble With Chode“. “Darkside“. “Magical Fields“. “Big Track” and the band even end the album off with the very well crafted “Theme from Tope’s Sphere“.
Though even a 50 second track can contain quite a bit of a magic song with the likes of track 15 entitled “Stromp’s Stomp” which sees the band sounding like the 70’s popular glam rock band The Sweet.
The band describe their genre of being Cosmic Psychedelic Space Rock and to a degree one may think around the lines of Gong’s album The Flying Teapot for its madness but there quite a lot of other great styles to their music including the likes of Pink Floyd and many others.
Orange Clocks Live
The band Orange Clocks have even taken the album to the stage and are performing the whole album live in its entirety. That’s something I would love to see myself if they ever come and play in my own town of Birmingham. But for now they are mainly playing around their own town.
Tope’s Spear 2 by Orange Clocks is quite a remarkable album and solid body of work the band have put together. Even though the concept of the story may sound a bit childish or daft I have to say it’s quite an addictive and very strong concept album that holds up very well and is well worthy of adding to my record collection. That much so that I just had to have the physical CD.
The album was released by Bad Elephant Music and can be had from Bandcamp in the form of either a digital download for the price of £3.50 or a physical CD in a cardboard gate-fold sleeve as shown in the picture above for £7. Peanuts to pay whichever format you decide to choose and comes with a quality production for its price tag too.
To round up my review of Tope’s Spear 2 by Orange Clocks. I would say that band have made a very exciting and very enjoyable album that may be short over its 30 minute time slot, but you will get hours of quality enjoyment out of it and it will even have you sticking it back on immediately for further spins. They come up with a real winner here and I shall be looking forward to see what the band will come up with next.
He’s One In A Million…
You can listen to or grab your own personal copy of Tope’s Spear 2 here : https://orangeclocks.bandcamp.com/album/topes-sphere-2
The track listing of the album is as follows: