A weird attempt to build a sonic universe: the God of Hellfire burning his world to the ground and getting nowhere, and then more.
To start with a hit is a wonderful thing, but staying at the top takes a lot of balance which Arthur Brown just could embrace without losing his identity. He followed the "Fire" single with "The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown" LP, yet found his band at the breaking point, with organist Vincent Crane, Brown's creative partner leaving to form ATOMIC ROOSTER and taking drummer Carl Palmer with him. It would be much later that Arthur would work with Crane again, while in 1969 he engaged drummer Drachen Theaker in what would be CRAZY WORLD's second album. That didn't happen as a new group's chemical-enhanced minds failed to focus on a suite concept Arthur brought to the table.
Here, the idiosyncrasy reigns over all four parts - "The Country", "The City", "The Cosmos" and "The Afterlife" - comprising more ideas than actual songs. And while the leader's theatrical vocals are impressive on the jazzy "Life Jacket" that starts it all, the groove is too barebone to chew on it, and riffs that follow don't cut to a tangible melody. Still, a gentle flute near the end of quirky "All Forms And Distinctions" and the Miles Davis-indebted crawling fusion of "Beyond The Sea" show there was a sound to build on, and a shot of psychedelic organ swirl in "The Lord That Doesn't Want You" possesses a germ of funky drive in its depth. But save for the faux Gene-Vincentism of "Endless Sleep" rockabilly, there's no life in the tracks.
Without a proper records in his hands and no finance to keep the band, Brown lost his drive, especially with some animosity towards him in the ranks. So he vented his grand scale projects into KINGDOM COME, whereas the group continued as RUSTIC HINGE, a British answer to MAGIC BAND as they saw it. But that was a corrupted outlook for, leaderless, the ensemble jammed with no solid point in sight. These session preserved here are hard to bear, with only a track bolstered with HIGH TIDE's heavy, almost orchestral input, the Eastern and Western folk motifs in "Crystallised Petard" and the sharp "Excitation Wavelength", led by Android Funnel's adventurous guitars, there's too little to cling to. Logically, nothing came out of it.
Thus, "Strangelands", unreleased at the time of its recording, serves more as historic document than a real "lost" album. Completists will be happy to have a hold of it; the rest should investigate at their own peril.