Since the early days of Echo And The Bunnymen, songwriter Will Sergeant has been doing his own thing in parallel with his day job. Hence we got the marvellous ‘Themes From Grind‘ record back in 1982. He did record a solo record prior to the band forming something of which I’ve as yet not heard. So it came as no surprise that we have this album ‘Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder)‘ under the guise of Poltergeist. He’s roped in the current Bunnymen drummer Nick Kilroe and original bass player Les Patterson. The latter had been persuaded out of musical retirement a couple of years ago. This was when he joined The Wild Swans for their last album release and subsequent live shows. A few of those shows coincidently had Will as the guest DJ.
It’s not easy to write a review about an instrumental album like this but when the quality of the music is that good, words just flow and hopefully in a readable order from me. ‘Cathedral‘ opens up the album with Will’s distinctive guitar licks that could so easily be turned into a full-blooded Bunnymen track, just add lyrics. ‘Heaven Up Here’ era comes to mind a favourite period of mine. As it progresses so the sound is turned up with a wall of guitars, this certainly rocks. The title track ‘Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder)‘ is next on the agenda and has shades of the fun abandonment of The Mission circa 1988. This builds on this base with acute driving guitars that are well up in the mix, in what would be the chorus parts of the song. Slowing the pace slightly as the title would suggest is ‘Dreamer Dreams Of Spectrums‘, but no less attention grabbing. I particularly like the percussive sounds from Nick on this piece. Plus there’s also a sprinkling of keyboards layered on top for good measure to keep it all sweet.
Starting at almost a funeral marches pace is ‘First Signs Of The Plague‘ which then gradually evolves in your ears as it climaxes almost eight minutes later. At the midway point Les’ bass is very reminiscent of the sound found on Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’. From that point it explodes into life with a cracking wah-wah guitar feel to it. Another Bunnymen-esque sounding track comes in the shape of ‘Dawn Visits The Garden Of Evil‘, all is missing is Mac singing “...spare us the Cutter..”. As expected the production by Will, you are able to hear every single note, such a clear mix. With a count in of four ‘Psychic Warfare‘ picks up the proceedings once again. The rhythm section on here is very tight indeed and marries well with the lead guitar shenanigans. You could imagine this being used in some thriller film as it holds the tension and keeps you transfixed to it.
Is this progressive rock or a psychedelic trip? For me it’s both that have been whipped up together perfectly, no more so than on ‘The Book Of Pleasures‘. If you’re a young budding musician then come listen to the intricacies of this song and how it encapsulates your senses. The album departs with ‘Lune Deeps‘ the most single like track here. With duelling guitars and a bass hugging back-beat this ends of this box of delights quite superbly. If Les’ boat building is as half as good as his bass playing then his flotilla will be sailing for years to come. Come and feel the magical quality of the debut album by Poltergeist as it’s an Aladdin’s cave of treasures. 9/10 Faultless really.
Footnote: Will Sergeant said he formed this band Poltergeist in his head whilst at school. I formed a band in my head whilst at school called simply Hollyhocks. The difference is neither can I play an instrument nor has the band ever been formed. Lesson to be learnt is to leave it to the professionals.