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A Lonely Crowd - Transients CD (album) cover


A Lonely Crowd


Heavy Prog

3.96 | 9 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Australian Prog is well and truly on the map with A Lonely Crowd; a fabulous blend of prog metal meets jazz fusion, wavering on the cusp of eclectic prog. The time sigs are way off kilter throughout, the melodies drift up and down the scales and the vocalist, Xen Havales, has the octave jumping skill of Annie Haslam. Their first album in 2011 "User Hostile" was a dynamic introduction to the band that I was most impressed with, so it was a delight to discover that the band continue this brand of excellence with their latest release "Transients".

The songs are short sharp shocks of prog excess and never wear out their welcome, though one may wish the songs were extended. There is little room for huge jams or instrumental breaks, instead the album seems to move along quickly and before one has had a chance to take in the massive sound on a particular song it has already moved onto the next. The heavy 'Godamnesia' is a case in point as I had no idea it had ended before 'Inspector' began.

'Inspector' is delightfully quirky with an odd angular rhythm that bashes along with distorted glee and then an odd break into sporadic jazz fusion bursts. Xen's vocals are bang on target with aggression giving way to light folk styles. It is better to listen to than explain so I leave this up to you. It is so interminably short for such a great song.

'Blur' has a King Crimson feel with Frippian guitar licks by Luke Ancell, and 'Kamikaze Karma' has some wonderful vocals with a Celtic lilt, the scales that Xen floats along and the way she keeps in tune with so many notes hit dead on is phenomenal.

'Rapture' features some breakneck drumming from Scott Ancell, and a notably off beat bass performance from David Morkunas. 'Sound Tripper' is another short trippy thing with an ultra cool melody and memorable catchphrase "dreamcatcher, rainmaker, sorcerer, dictator, soundmaker, dreamweaver, healer and owl" sung in time to the rhythmic feel.

'Blows & Arrows' is one of the heavier tracks with Luke's relentless guitar crashing down and then some dreamy vocals to offset the balance. The song settles into a jazz fusion with odd time sigs and then launches into more distortion breaks. I love the flute work of Xen on this as a counterpoint. Some thought provoking lyrics enhance it, such as "a crack in the door into my room where I stand, bend my bow back and let the arrow fly, into my heart like a hunter in trance".

'Telephiles' is an attention grabber with killer melody that haunts the listener without mercy. 'Seeing Stars' introduces glockenspiel passages embellishing the bizarre atmosphere. Xen belts out phrases such as "Stars are on fire". Again I can't help but be reminded of King Crimson with those angular riffs and the overall sound the band generates. Luke channels Fripp at times, and the odd use of glockenspiel is wonderfully, deliriously out of place. 3 minutes in, the sig changes into a jazz breakdown and some spaced out vocals "bye bye bird on a wire, waiting for a bite sized cloud".

'Voodoo Tube' has a Frippian intro, and moves into strange tempo shifts. The rhythm is all over the map and grooves into a vocal that sounds like Toyah; ironic really as Toyah married Fripp!

'The Wanderer' is the longest track at 5 minutes, featuring more glockenspiel and rhythms that are out of the park. The song is a mystery tour of amazing tempo jolts and sweet vocals. It opens with Luke's gentle guitar vibrations, Xen in a melancholy mood and David has put the drumsticks away. Xen muses on "a wild goose chase", pinning her "hopes on vanishing lands", thinking she can be "caught like smoke with two hands", with "feathers dropping off one by one". The song soon builds into sporadic drum and bass, and breaks into glockenspiel accompaniment to Xen's jaunty see-sawing Kate Bush-ian vocals. David swaps the bass for piano on this and lays a foundation for some gorgeous guitar soloing. The piano finishes off the song with quiet resolve.

Overall, this album is another triumph for A Lonely Crowd. It is hard to pick out a particular favourite as the songs all work together well. There are a myriad of styles and I believe this will appeal to many prog lovers and those who enjoy the quirkier side of jazz. Metal heads may even appreciate the heavier moments though overall this crosses into too many genres to pin down any in particular. The music is inspirational but it is Xen that really makes this extra special. "Transients" is yet another excellent album to enjoy from this inventive, passionate and dynamic quartet.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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