Twelve Houses by Roger Harvey is an album from out of this world, or at the very least, out of this dimension. With title tracks like “One Night as an Astronaut” and “Psychedelic Dogs,” it’s clear that his audience is in for a new kind of listening experience. He even transports his listeners to a new reality by alluding to various aspects of Aztec mythology in songs like “Tezcatlipoca” and “Five Suns.”Other titles like “City Deer” and “Lovers Can Be Monsters” hint at the reoccurring theme of juxtaposition that Harvey utilizes throughout the album.
Right off the bat, Harvey pleads with his audience to let him take them away to a new and detached point of view in the opening lyric of Twelve Houses, “One night as an astronaut can redefine your life.” Even the intros to songs like “Three Wolf Moon” and “Tezcatlipoca,” are laced with the sense of a teleportation machine that’s reminiscent of the magical elevator seen in the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Harvey even introduces aspects of the Aztec God, Tezcatlipoca, in songs like “Five Suns” that alludes to his creation of the world and his control of the stars and astral plane.
The theme of how things are not always what they appear to be presents itself repeatedly throughout the album in Harvey’s use of juxtaposition. His ability to combine two drastically different things paints the confusing picture that prompts his audience to question reality as they know it. In “Arrow/Plane,” he contrasts the classical and majestic horn of a trumpet with the higher octave of a piano, resembling the miniature toy pianos that kids play with. Even the lyrics mimic this opposing ensemble with lines like “It’s always the same, though the seasons they change. The weather is tempered, but the rest just remains.” His gift with imagery and lyrics exhibits itself again in the holiday-titled track, “Halloween,” as he opens his heart about a lost love and his attempts at escaping its pain.
The entire album is an intricate piece of art that only gets better and better with each visit. There’s always something new and intriguing to find like a new instrument in the background or a unique production technique, giving the song a “fuzzy” sound, similar to how Gerard Way would describe his solo album, Hesitant Alien. It’s a goldmine for new little treasures, both lyrically and instrumentally.