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Echolyn - I Heard You Listening CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.80 | 218 ratings

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5 stars Echolyn can be a difficult band for a newbie, for several reasons. One is that even some of our most articulate critics don't realize that, whenever a piece of art has skill and sincerity behind it, no truly legit critique can occur without analyzing the special resonance between the beholder and the beholden. We have critics here who just rage against what they think is self-evidently WRONG with a certain band, or less offensively, others who just worship certain bands and artists like their most incredibly favorite superhero - sweet and silly, the latter, and neither side helps an interested and intelligent listener understand what to expect if they buy it. Another issue with echolyn is that they are, to my ears, as free of cliches, or of genre tropes and customs, as any "prog" band - even when you can hear that they marinated in Gentle Giant when younger, or hit Steely-Dan-nish and Wilco shades here and there, at no point do they actually sound ANYTHING like those bands; though they are truly SYMPHONIC in the structure, sonic diversity, and compositional development of a majority of songs, no one could seriously say they are unconsciously channeling any of the 70's prog zeitgeist - they don't belong in any genre in quite the same way that GG, Genesis, Yes, Crimson, ELP and Tull, as different as they were, were also obviously products of the same particular historical movement; The Flower Kings (whom I love, knowing that Brett Kull doesn't so much) revive that old vibe in, to my ears, a delightful and creative way, cross-pollinating that 70s movement with so many other flavors. But the FK make no effort to be sui generic. This is my way of saying that echolyn are the most unique of all the bands who, classified as "progressive", at their best strove to make unique music every time, but could never - as so few ever could - avoid being representative of a genre. echolyn's harmonic choices, their composition of extended, dissonant and ear-surprising chord progressions within otherwise user-friendly rock tunes, the sense that a melody or a coda is REACHING for something transcendent the way a classical composer might do within a requiem or elegy, the way a lyrical idea will be declared, repeated and then insinuate itself like a ghost later in the tune, the way a neat groove will be turned inside out so as to be both familiar and vaguely upsetting at the same time, the resistance to going all cosmic or cryptic in order to suggest profundity, while dropping truly literate and suggestive insights into relatable songs, but with twists that make you rewind to be sure you heard it right.......and then the sheer, prog-lovers' beloved COMPLEXITY of structure within sometimes deceptively straightforward tunes......these echolyn qualities, as I hear and describe them, make this one of the most NUTRITIOUS AND TASTY bands out there; but being so at the same time that they are so thoroughly unlike any other band I've heard means that they need to be heard liberated from comfortable reference points - they aren't sufficiently "like" anyone else to reassure the potential buyer that "if you like (.......), you really like echolyn. I say that, exemplified by this new, long-awaited, brilliant "I Heard You Listening", if you cherish new musical experiences, and the "sound of surprise" though not in the guise of jazz, and you are not easily intimidated, then you should do the responsibe thing and buy this album, while making a promise to listen to it closely several time before you try to declare a serious opinion about it (you are allowed to like it right away - but you won't "get" it without doing some work to match the remarkable depth of work that the band put in.
toddbashee | 5/5 |


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