Persuading the combination of Science-Fiction and the Steampunk universe in the 19th and early 20th century, Tom Slatter is one of the people who carries both of the genres and makes it a conceptual mini storylines with a Rock Opera feel, and his third album, Three Rows of Teeth released this year, deal with the issues of Murder, Betrayal, Body Parts being replaced with robotic ideas, make-up Spiritualists, and of course an airship with too many teeth. So you can understand this is something out of a weird storyline and it feels like if it's almost straight from the realms of the short stories from the late great Ray Bradbury and the inspirations of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City to set the atmosphere of the 1890s and early 1900s.
The music has this combination of William D. Drake, early Genesis, Radiohead, and Caravan at the same time that is Catchy, Electronic, Haunting, Whimsical, and Adventurous at the same time that can really take you into different directions and locations from the short stories that Tom writes and sings at the same time on how some of the characters went through and how the price they paid for what they have done to themselves.
For his singing, guitar playing and the instruments that are playing, he’s a one-man band. In the glowing opening title track, the song opens like an overture with different movements between acoustic/electric guitar, keyboards, drums, vocals that has some dramatic and thumping turned soaring structures while showing some touches of the future before it goes into this chaotic circus rock sound with a wildly difficult time signature that is going off the wall as Tom goes off by having a blast and resembling the sounds of King Crimson and a Trick of the Tail-era as well.
Then, he goes into a humorous spooky story-telling complex with a Jazz and the homage of a traditional Jewish folk songs with an attitude on Mother’s Been Talking to Ghosts Again while the acoustic advanced Self Made Man and These Tiny Things Are Haunting Me, offers a deep ambient electronic voyage that will terrify and chill you to the bone. Then, there’s the sinister sing-along crisp acoustic touch of sailor music with a punch that could have been used during the sessions of Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog with a dance-like waltz in ¾ that is emotionally yet stunning touches on The Engine That Played Through Their Honeymoon along with the joyous, enlighten, and jumpy melody on Dance Dance Dance. And then, we come to the three-part suite, The Time Traveler.
It soars with the touches of going into Acid Gothic Folk music for the first few minutes before going into this crazy thumping rock altitude as Tom challenges Steve Hackett and Robert Fripp with his solo work that is wonderous, out of this world, and mesmerizing both rhythm and lead at the same time (What We Say Three Times is True). And then, it goes into this mourning ‘60s-‘70s psychedelic atmosphere feel and feeling as if the world has now become a nightmarish hell as it segues into a uplifting organ and mellotronic acoustic beauty to rise up and crumble the empire (Rise Another Leaf).
The last part has a melancholic and evocative touch of some layered guitar work and keyboard sound, and bass work as well. It has this touch of a sinister soundtrack on the instruments, stirs up the tension to go in this increasing climax for the finale (Love Letter and Entropy). Slatter knows his way around the bench between Progressive Rock and Stories and he has done his research very well on the album. I have listened to Three Rows of Teeth about four times, and it’s a remarkable album from start to finish. This is a must listen to album for this year.