Ty Richards’ fans may feel torn over the psychedelic spaceman’s sophomore album, Welcome to Flat Earth. Those who enjoy discovering new sounds will really love it. Those who don’t…probably really won’t. But that certainly doesn’t make the limit pushing, all-analog, DIY record any less impressive.
Welcome to Flat Earth represents a new direction for Richards and a devolution from his 2016 psychedelic dance rock debut, Zillion. “I think there’s going to be a bigger divide with this record,” admits Richards. “Zillion was a pretty mainstream album. It was psychedelic…but very much based in pop. Welcome to Flat Earth is kind of the opposite with a more distinct, unapologetic sound.” The uniquely classified Nintendo-punk album combines aggressive electronic-rock with mischievous satire to poke fun at the “post-truth” world. Think early Queens of the Stone Age pseudo-metal meets the satirical ridiculousness of Devo at The Palace in Hawkins, IN. And Viola! Welcome to Richards’ Flat Earth.
All seven of its original tracks were written and recorded at the same time on a Tascam 388 reel-to-reel tape machine with zero computers and zero editing…a very anti-pop and non-modern production method for sure. However, there’s certainly a heavy dose of new wave elements tucked into Welcome’s video game beats, psychedelic fuzz and sci-fi themes.
“There’s not a ton of guitar on this project,” admits Richards. “A lot of the guitar sounds are actually synthesizers and at times it’s near impossible to tell the difference”. The most notable exception, however, is the album opener, ‘Western Chauvinist‘; an aggressive punk track that burns down the establishment with a Stratocaster dropped through a fuzz pedal creating a quasi-White Stripes rhythm. The swanky, bass-driven ‘Red Pill,’ with its velvety fuzz and Mario Bros. hook is the other major exception. Drum machines and bouncing synths battle the lizard people of ‘Merry Go Round’ in Richards’ Mushroom Kingdom of bleeps, bloops and blerps. The chart-topping rocker returns to his “Beck Zeppelin” traits with the Odelay-ish ‘Killjoy’ and revives an iconic piece of rock history with an elusive and psychedelic rendition of The Kink’s classic, ‘All Day and All of the Night”. The electronics mellow towards the end of the album and take a hypnotic dance with the Devil on ‘Kissing The Wizard’ and blissfully purr in closing with ‘Bleed Yourself Dry‘.
Welcome to Flat Earth oozes with VHS Era nostalgia as Richards focuses a satirical lens on a modern world of conspiracy theories and what ifs. The themes feel just as relevant today as during the height of the Cold War. “The album is jokingly named after the growing Flat Earth Theory movement of the present day,” states Richards. “Over time though, the title and the vibe of the record as a whole has come to represent a much deeper theme in humanity – why do we trust authority? There is a strong use of absurd satire and ironic humor throughout the album. I don’t know that this record is going to be for everyone,” he admits. “But, it’s supposed to be fun and I hope people can enjoy the lightheartedness of it and at minimum get a smile from it.”
Welcome to Flat Earth will be released April 20, 2018, just before the weekend of Earth Day. The album can be pre-ordered on vinyl, cassette tape and digital download here. Ty Richards’ record release show for Welcome to Flat Earth will take place at Mosaic Sound Collective, a former juvenile delinquent facility, also on Friday, April 20. VIP and general admission tickets can be purchased here, and for more information, please see tyrichards.com.