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The Night Terrors : Spiral Vortex

I knew someone who suffered from night terrors.  “So it’s just like a really bad nightmare?” we’d ask innocently.  “A little bit, but different,” he’d say.  “You wake up screaming, but you can’t remember what it was that was freaking you out, so it seems like it’s more than just a dream.” 
 
Like so many neurological oddities, medical science still has some way to go before it truly understands the cause and manifestation of night terrors.  Similarly, it’s almost as difficult to understand where the Night Terrors are heading.  The band’s music has been described as ‘synth prog’ – itself a term that’d potentially induce a disturbing musical nightmare – but that’s not the whole story.
 
Miles Brown is the Night Terrors’ notional leader and, if you’re prepared to wear the pretension of the concept, the auteur.  His command of the theremin is freakish – compared to Brown, Jon Spencer is a kindergarten student playing on a toy xylophone.  The synth melodies are somewhere between celestial and pan-galactic.  It’s 1985 meets 2001, Harold Faltermeyer on a cryptographic bender with Carl Sagan, Krautrock on a New Age journey into a higher level of cerebral understanding.  
 
There’s a moment in Space Sickness when all prog synth hell breaks loose, and nothing will ever be the same; if you can hold on for the ride, Monster takes you from Hammer’s House of Horror to English new wave in a matter of short sonic splashes.  Celeste is ominous; when the spaceship takes off we’re in another dimension and we might never return. Galaxia is the intense trip into the most ethereal corners of 1979; it’s simultaneously enlightening and disconcerting, even if you can’t work out the ultimate meaning of it all.  The Devil Played Backwards starts out as the mutant lovechild of Flashdance – is that what the title really means – and then it’s the synth-dance pop track for the ages.
 
The album concludes with the dark and haunting Force Field and you’re left to ponder just what you’ve heard, seen and experienced.  But to obsess with the destination is to lose sight of the experience.  And it’s in that experience that exists the wonder of the Night Terrors.
 
BY PATRICK EMERY
 
In A Word: Celestial.
Key Track: Space Sickness.
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