BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Rebooting Thick As A Brick offered the initial indications that Ian Anderson has opted to shelve Jethro Tull, at least for the time being. If that’s the case, then indeed Homo Erraticus seals the deal. Anderson’s most ambitious solo project thus far — at least in terms of an album that doesn’t build entirely from a Tull template — it resembles the group in all but name only, the strongest indication so far that he doesn’t feel inclined to operate under the band banner whatsoever.
That said, Homo Erraticus boasts all the typical elements that defined the classic Tull albums of the past — Aqualung, War Child, Minstrel in the Gallery, Too Old To Rockand Roll, and Thick As A Brick among them. The flute flourishes, shifting time signatures, blistering guitar riffs, and Anderson’s vocal swagger make this a Tull album in all but name only. Likewise, as if to carry on convention, Anderson has again borrowed a key element from the ongoing Thick As A Brick saga by crediting the lyrical contributions to the fictional boy poet Gerald Bostock. Indeed, the premise is equally intense, given that song titles like “Puer Ferox Adventus,” “The Pax Brtannico,” “Trpudium Ad Bellum and “Per Errationes Ad Astra” provide a similarly high quotient of ambition and pretension in equal measure.
As if that’s not enough to ensure high-mindedness, the themes that combine to create this opus are also suitably sprawling, with subjects that touch upon key events and cultural touchstones essential to British history. They fall under a succession of prophecies that stretch from past to the future, linking a nomadic Neolithic settler, an iron Age blacksmith, a Christian monk, a turnpike innkeeper and Prince Albert in one continuous sweep. Appropriately then, a limited edition deluxe four disc set, complete with a 60 page hardback book, a bonus DVD of interviews and behind the scenes footage, and a second CD filled with commentary and demos provides an additional option. It’s fortunate, then, that the music makes these additives worthwhile, because while Jethro Tull may have plowed its final foray, Ian Anderson is as inventive as ever.
DOWNLOAD: “Puer Ferox Adventus,” “The Pax Brtannico,” “Trpudium Ad Bellum