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Beardfish - Sleeping In Traffic - Part Two CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.19 | 707 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars In my last review I suggested that the two parts of 'Sleeping in Traffic' are equally brilliant. On reflection, I'm going to resile from that view. 'Part 1' has the better music; while 'Part 2' stretches the band further. Take your pick; but for me, this album doesn't work quite as well as its predecessor.

BEARDFISH ride the crest of the Scandinavian retro-prog wave. Even a cursory glance shows that Scandinavia is responsible in large part for the renaissance of prog rock, and BEARDFISH are about as good as it gets. While 'Part 1' is an emphatic musical statement to that effect, this album is a little more equivocal. The brief opener doesn't link to the next track - it seems cast adrift. 'Into the Night', the first 'proper' song, is rather pedestrian for the first six minutes, until we finally get the signature BEARDFISH sound: a lovely keyboard hook in 3/4 time - and, rather belatedly, we're off.

And we're off into remarkably upbeat territory. This is supposed to be the 'night' to 'Part 1's 'day', but there's little darkness here. The album is dominated by humorous energy of the FRANK ZAPPA variety, underpinned by those infectious hooks and a surprisingly subdued rhythm section: gone are the obvious GENTLE GIANT comparisons. 'The Hunter' passes quite proggily by without offering the heightened interest one might have expected from the promising opening to the track, and then it's full-on ZAPPA-esue humour in 'South of the Border'. This is the most memorable track on the album, and the music takes a definite second place to the message. Great story, great fun, and rather daring, I would have thought, given their audience.

'Cashflow' is this album's 'Ungodly Slob', an instrumental allowing the band to strut their prog credentials - but this is rather subdued compared to the outstanding 'Slob' from 'Part 1'. This is followed by the interesting two-part 'Downward Spiral/Chimay', a darker moment that still sounds ridiculously upbeat. The lads are just too happy for their own good. The vocals are in places oddly reminiscent of TODD RUNDGREN and his unique harmonies.

Then, after forty minutes of interesting if not outstanding music, we get a 35-minute epic. Yes, an epic fully as long as an entire GENTLE GIANT album. And thinking of this title track in those terms helps expose this album as comparatively lightweight musically compared to those gentle giants of the 70s, despite how entertaining the track is. A few listens reveals a pleasing structure, in which many of the themes from both albums are worked into a centerpiece that outstrips most modern retro-prog epics without challenging the 'Supper's Ready's of this world. It has moments of zaniness - affected voices, and an appearance from the BEE GEES - well, sort of. We get a dash of everything, and it's all splendid fun. If BEARDFISH do anything, it's entertain.

We finish with a short instrumental laying the album to bed. Of course, by now you've probably forgotten the opening theme of 'Part 1': there's a solid 140 minutes of listening to hear the whole cycle. Worth doing, I think. 'Sleeping in Traffic' is an ambitious and successful effort: Part 1 is essential, while Part 2 is merely excellent. The cycle is well worth having.

russellk | 4/5 |


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