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Box Of Crayons - Colorblind Chameleon CD (album) cover

COLORBLIND CHAMELEON

Box Of Crayons

 

Crossover Prog

2.67 | 6 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars I play this musical roulette game once and a while where I rifle through listings of band names looking for something that stands out, and then look for albums from them on-line that are inexpensive. The odds on finding something really remarkable is slim, but you can actually get used CDs on-line from some vendors for little more than the price of postage, so the risk isn’t very great either. Well that’s how I found these guys, and this isn’t a remarkable album or even a very good one, but it’s fodder for some speculation as to why and how it came to be made anyway.

It goes without saying that I know little to nothing about this band, and there is little to nothing on-line or in any music magazines that I read to shed much light on them either. It’s probably safe to say this isn’t really a band though, but rather seventeen musicians who don’t appear to have much in common other than that they are all musicians (and that they all appear on this record). If anyone knows more about them you should be able to locate me from the heading on this review, so shoot me a message and clue me in.

The album was recorded in Redmond, Washington and Wilsonville, Oregon but released in Germany in 1997. The liner notes consist of a legend that lists the players with little color-coded blocks (crayons) next to them and symbols that represent the instruments they play. Each page has the lyrics to a track with the symbols and color blocks of whichever musician appears in that song. That’s about it. No real clues as to the various players’ backgrounds or why they bothered to make the album.

I have a theory, but it’s a little far-fetched. There are possible clues in some of the lyrics:

“breathe out, let go your futile puppet strings and feel the warm wind of tranquility”

“signal soliloquy, find sobriety in the face of the enemy”

“share the common blame, raise your head in shame; fulfill the role again”

“a vision pursues me, a specter from my past; only one of the many who hang in my closet next to terry cloth robes”

“refuse to remember, ignore the gnawing, muted bite; gnawing like a numbness – welcome forgetfulness”

And the closing line

“open up – open offer, in the sea there is laughter; you will sing serenity’s sweet song”.

Sure sounds like this is a bunch of AA guys putting together some sort of penance rehab project to me. Like I said, this is a pretty far-fetched theory and probably wrong, but it’s about the only thing I can think of that makes sense. This would explain how a journeyman jazz musician, a high-school music teacher, a real-estate agent, a preacher (or at least someone who calls himself that), and a bunch of people whose backgrounds are a mystery could have come together to make a record in America that gets distributed by a minor German importer.

As for the music there’s a little bit of everything here. The opening “Calico” sounds like a soft-rock and slightly folk tune with acoustic guitar and some male/female vocal harmonizing before the guy abruptly launches into a throaty almost metal vocal passage. “Circles in the Rain” is more electric and moody neo-prog piece, while “Ashes, Ashes” is some sort of odd spoken-word poetry slam or something with acoustic backing. “Tapestry”, “Paradox I” and “The Hurting Place” offer up more neo-prog, with “Tapestry” also being an instrumental track; while “Mona Lisa” is a sultry jazzy number with horns and acoustic percussion. “Box of Crayons” is a weird and avant-garde bit of discordant strings and digital loops and gibberish shrieking vocals (this is also the only track whose lyrics aren’t listed in the liner notes). Finally there’s a reprise on “Calico” and the album ends.

Not sure what to make of this record, and although it covers a lot of stylistic ground there’s isn’t much of it that really stands out. I’ll go with two stars here since this doesn’t really qualify as good, only as a curiosity. If you come across it and decide to buy it yourself, or know any more about the group, let me know and I’ll revisit this review if it seems warranted. Otherwise I’d personally recommend skipping this album.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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