In 1973, Tomska R. Huntley created this concept that was destined for German TV which was Tope’s Sphere. The original idea was to be a groundbreaking animated series with a live soundtrack by UK/German super group, Klementine Uhren. It was supposed to feature Tope, the knitted-monkey protagonist and Chode, his sidekick to go on an outer space adventure with a psychedelic rock score.
It feels very much like when I was a kid waking up to some of my favorite Saturday Morning cartoons back in the old days of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s whether it was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sonic the Hedgehog, Spider-Man, X-Men, or Batman: The Animated Series. But back to the story, it seemed like a very interesting concept, but then it didn’t happen.
What happened was both Tomska and the group weren’t too happy with the final mixes and it disappeared promptly. Tomska’s dream was shattered and he was bankrupt. He dumped what was left of Tope’s Sphere and vanished into the Himalayan Mountains. It seemed like it would never see the light of day……until 44 years later, the Bad Elephant Music label decided to bring the concept to life set in an audio-space rock narrative adventure.
Russ Russell enlisted the band called Orange Clocks to re-imagine the soundtrack, parts of the script and what was left of the stage props, video tape, and the abandoned series to a new life for the 21st century while bringing Tomska’s vision back to life. Martin Winsley does an incredible job as the narrator as he resembles the wackiness between Stan “The Man” Lee, Gong’s Daevid Allen, and Peter Jones who did the narration for the BBC TV adaptation and the radio series of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
It is a Space-Rock, Psychedelic swirling adventure of Tope and Chode’s story and close your eyes and imagine as a young man waking up early in the morning as I’ve mentioned for one of your favorite Saturday morning series to record it on your VCR. Ambush is done in the styles of Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come’s Galactic Zoo Dossier-era featuring some screaming effects done in the style of an early Roger Waters Pow R, Toc H.
Fun in the Stars has these space-out riffs, leading freak-out work as Tode is cackling and heading for some excitement with Chode into the solar system while he bravely takes on the challenge to save his friend with a ‘60s psych beatle-sque intro before riding into a powerful roar with the Trouble with Chode. Then, everything becomes a dangerous idea for Tode with the Magical Fields with its Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy Elton John session meets the music of a pre-Dark Side-era of Pink Floyd.
With lead guitars and it swirls into a great climax before Tope is ready for the challenge for the Big Track. I love the swirling space-rock dazzle on here and then its rising climax when he crashes down gets the drums, lead guitar, and vocalizations up for action and knowing he’s on his way to save Chode as Stromp’s Stomp brings to mind the glory days of the ‘70s Glam Rock-era.
I had an amazing blast over and over again listening Tope’s Sphere 2 by Orange Clocks. It brought back memories as a kid listening to those Disney audio adventures of Dick Tracy and The Rocketeer with the 3D Comic Books that go with the story. Bad Elephant Music has never done me wrong when it comes to amazing releases and I hope they will continue to do more this year.