For a guy who’s just turned 70, ROBYN HITCHCOCK hasn’t seemed to have slowed down. In fact, he has just released Life After Infinity, an all-instrumentals album available on all formats (including cassette tape) that is his second full-length release in six months. While Shufflemania! was more like a standard “band” album*, this one’s pretty much just Robyn on instruments and UK pal/co-producer Charlie Francis on bass and percussion. (He also did the mix and mastering, trainspotters.)
If you’ve been a longtime fan you’ll know that Hitchcock has included instrumentals on his releases before, most notably on 1984’s I Often Dream of Trains, which had some really lovely tunes and textures amongst the 14 songs that made up the original release. I can’t say there’s anything spectacularly different here – and that’s a good thing. There are some beauties here, for sure, and they’re all as fleshed out as you’d hope. Indeed, what I do detect as different is that there are a handful of tunes with the kind of sound beds you’d expect to hear on one of Eno’s ambient records. On top of that you’ll hear acoustic tunes such as “Nasturtiums for Anita” and “Mr. Ringerson’s Picnic,” “Tubby Among the Nightingales” (which sounds like something from George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music), and the double-header “Daphne, Skipping” and “Pleisosaurs in the Desert,” in which the first tune makes its way into your psyche and is followed by the second, which starts out sounding like the first one in reverse but goes somewhere else.
Life After Infinity is a gorgeous little album and in some ways it’s unlike anything in Robyn Hitchcock’s discography. You really get a chance to hear all that beautiful instrumentation, unhindered by concerns of where the vocals will sit in the mix. A nice addition to this man’s oeuvre, which numbers nearly 40 albums! – Marsh Gooch
3.5/5 (Tiny Ghost [no number], 2023)
* (A band album in which the instruments were tracked separately at different studios around the globe; it was recorded during lockdown.)
[There are no examples of the songs from this album on the Internet at the time of this writing, so please enjoy these instrumental samples from the above-mentioned I Often Dream of Trains.]