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Perfect Beings - Perfect Beings II CD (album) cover

PERFECT BEINGS II

Perfect Beings

 

Crossover Prog

3.92 | 205 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I was one of the dissenting voices among prog-rock critics who anointed Perfect Beings' debut with buckets of drool and tons of praise, feeling that it was not exactly what I was expecting in view of the immense enjoyment I had with Moth Vellum, guitarist Johannes Luley's previous project that yielded sadly only one masterful album. I certainly approved of the intense Chris Tristram bass guitar rumble, the excellent stick work from Dicki Fliszar and the magnificent keyboard playing of Jesse Nason, which came to be quite surprising. Axeman Luley has been a favourite since his session days with German techno pop band Camouflage, so I had a strong focus on the instrumental quality. Singer Ryan Hurtgen can also sing, to say the least. What bugged me about the debut is the overtly poppy/choppy first tracks which had the misfortune of leading me sideways. The rest of the material was way more palatable but it just did not register that strongly after the initial letdown. Too many cross references to bands like XTC, 10cc, faux-jazz ala Lee Ritenour/Larry Carlton/George Benson and a hodgepodge of other lesser known influences.

So it's with a certain trepidation that I gave this a spin, albeit on progstreaming, and I can report that this time, the band sounds like a modern prog band that is on a mission. A cuckoo greets 'Mar de Fuego' and proceeds to blitz a superb keyboard run, ably held together by an up-front and cocky buzzing bass and a scouring guitar rant, straight out of the classic symphonic sound, tossing in a piano flurry for good effect. Hurtgen has a gentle voice that soothes and appeals easily. Niiiiiiiice! There is that certain Yes influence (trebly bass, soaring lead guitar and shuffling drum work) that is undeniable but that is always a good thing. The follow-up 'Cryogenia' flows well, initially highly minimal, acoustic accompaniment and effect-laden voice leading the icy parade, before melting into a more substantial prog dirge with loads of electronic orchestrations, Luley unleashing a screaming 6 string volley that convinces even the diehard doubter like moi. He throws in those Howe-like squeaks that soar to the heavens. This is a complete departure from the debut 'blue' album.

The criminally under timed 'Samsara' should have been extended, a menacing electro brew that is both ghostly and dramatic, a proper intro for the album first outright jewel, the splendiferous and epic 'The Love Inside', a nearly 9 minute musical exploration that possesses both intrigue and technique, bristling piano at the outset, then both the voice and the bass entering the fray, adding the squeaky guitar fills until it builds up into a harder structure , laden with complex patterns and a slight dissonance. This is terrific progressive rock in the traditional symphonic mode, with stellar mood, impeccable playing and smart rhythmic moves. Even the languid singing impresses.

This majestic piece is followed by another amazing slice of prog, the porcupine quilled 'Volcanic Streams', a bubbly, searing, tectonic rumble full of bravura, gruesome sounds and I find myself almost floored by how much I actually like this music , gone are all the silly and wasteful details that made the debut so frustrating a listen, at least to my ears. After a long sweltering flow, the arrangement suddenly alters into a slick groove, the bass carving a mighty furrow with in a jazzy highway of sound, clanging guitars and shuffling drums, a total surprise that really had me tapping my toes in unison with the rhythm. Mind music that effects the listener is what prog is all about.

'The Yard' reverts to their more playful, lightweight style, something that I feel is not their forte, trying to sound like a clever pop band with cool jazzy intonations, well, err'. No!

For a second, I thought 'Go' was a new Duran Duran song, complete with Tristram doing a passable John Taylor bass pop, while Hurtgen pretending to be Simon the Good, which in a way encapsulates what makes this such a strange experience. (Hey, I actually like DD, 'Come Undone' is a pure genius pop song of the very finest order), it's just that it just barely fits with the previous cocktail of sensational prog pieces they delivered earlier. The resemblance to something off 'Rio' (a great album BTW) is uncanny. I preferred smiling that being angry in any shape, way or form.

The haunting 'Rivermaker' is another far-reaching surprise with Ryan Hurtgen wailing passionately over some complex scales, oozing all kinds of emotion out of his lungs, a thoroughly harrowing experience. It's kind of hard to compare this to anything out there, what with its odd orchestrations and screwball guitar flanges, while the soulful voice aches, pains and throttles over the melody. Pleasantly stunned.

'Cause and Effect' seems to combine all the previous elements into one organic piece of progressive music, a 'balled' ballad as I like to call it, offering a Beatles-like vocal and a bizarre instrumental foray that veers into the absurd and atonal, all players cooking like crazy cooks splashing in some giant musical wok, a sudden whistling synthesizer screech and a summery vocal that made me imagine of some white laundry flapping in the wind. I like the bizarre'..

The finale stuns again, a simple beat, rolling bass and a forlorn, low-ended voice, sleepy and soporific. 'The Thrill Seeker' strives for the ecstasy, of that there is no doubt, more on the groove oriented jazzy scale, armed with a delightful proggy edge and relentless shine.

This is more like it! Way more like it, actually love it. There, Johannes.

4.5 seamless organisms

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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