What have we here? On this bizarre concept album, London-based songwriter Matthew Thomas Dillon is a creepy one-man heart-wrecking crew. Within the first few bars of the opener, “Air Suit,” the tone resonates with the same uncomfortable, spatial atmospherics as the first Blue Nile album, while it also speaks in a caricatured voice about the end of a life.
That same weird pall hangs over most of the aching electro-pop rock of Epcot Starfields. It’s an unusually self-referential album, with haunting songs inspired by Epcot Center and the other creative work of Walt Disney. Somehow, with just a languorous piano, some string and choir action and Dillon’s disturbed, shaky, nasally, high-timbre, sing-speak tenor, they create a fairly chilling otherworldly squall of tension, hanging loosely somewhere out in the ionosphere.
There is no other way to describe it than to say it’s lonely, mind-warping, electro-space-gospel meta-pop, and Dillon and crew can definitely locate a melody, as displayed in the cold, stark beauty that comes through on “Epcot Man.”
“Big Boom,” is like a three martini-lunch date between Carl Sagan and Karl Wallinger and “Epcot Slow” is a nauseous “fear-laden” wrist-slasher of a song, with a heartbreaking vocal hook and freaky and morbid lyrical message at the end. After they get warmed up they even take on a bit of a Mercury Rev aspect, but nothing quite as all-out lysergic as MR, maybe more like a Saturday Morning Kids Crew high on 2001: A Space Odyssey.
To be honest, some of this goo is so sickly sweet it screams guilty pleasure (or just plain agony) from the get go. Although it’s contained in its spacesuit of emotion, there is also some seriously sad shit going on in here, if you want there to be, and if you’re currently on an emotional down-slope yourself this is one of those albums that you might, initially, want to hold at a distance. It does, however, make a strong bid for placement on the list of “best and most fucked – up records of 2009.”