Exhibit / January 17, 2018
Object Name: Voyage (A Journey Into Discoid Funk)
Maker and Year: DJM Records, Brian Bennett (arranger and producer), 1978
Object Type: LP album
Description: (Michael Grasso)
Brian Bennett‘s career started in grand fashion; while barely out of his teens, he became the drummer for one of the UK’s biggest pop groups, Cliff Richard’s backing band, The Shadows, taking over from original drummer Tony Meehan. Bennett’s 1978 solo effort, Voyage (A Journey Into Discoid Funk), marked his first in nearly a decade, after a pair of jazz-rock albums in the late ’60s. A Bruton Music library mainstay, Bennett began exploring the possibilities of the synthesizer with fellow Bruton artist Alan Hawkshaw on a pair of LPs in 1974.
Voyage comes at the height of both the old-school 1970s synthesizer explosion and the opening up of the space disco genre. While much of Voyage is danceable, it doesn’t offer the same propulsion and pop appeal of some of the mainstays of the genre. “Solstice” is absolutely the standout track on the LP, a lowdown, funky space exploration that meanders without ever getting boring, thanks to some lovely layered synths and a perfect melodic bassline counterpoint. Other tracks, like “Air Quake,” wander into jazz-solo territory, while album closer “Ocean Glide” offers a preview of later New Age/ambient musical trends, evoking the soaring, keyboard-centric, synth-orchestral work of artists like Vangelis.
The eye-catching cover art by illustrator Roy Simpson goes against the grain of the visual design of most ’70s science fiction, offering a brightly primary-colored spacecraft in red and yellow. The Chris Foss-inspired ship almost seems like an interstellar warning sign of some kind, its six-winged shape evocative of another striking spacecraft first introduced in 1978, the Liberator from BBC cult science fiction hit Blake’s 7 (1978-1981).