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3RDegree - Ones & Zeros - Volume 0 CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.20 | 155 ratings

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5 stars I read somewhere that the journey is always more interesting than the actual destination, and that's what we're getting with 3rDegree's latest release of Ones & Zeros Vol. 0. This album is a dynamic, thought-provoking companion to the previous release of Volume 1.

The opening overture jumps out of the speakers with startling urgency - a stark contrast to the spacey, teasing start to the previous album - and possibly a sonic embodiment of this album's frenetic setting. Callbacks to the prior album's songs and foreshadowing of songs yet to come are peppered throughout this opening sequence (and the entire album as well) in very slick ways that don't feel recycled, but help serve as connective tissue for the overarching concept. On this album, we're treated to vignettes of a pretty bleak world increasingly dependent on ethically questionable technology, both available and in development. Regardless of how that tech is applied, however, every instance seems to come with an inescapable shot of despair attached, eventually leading us to the more patently Transhumanist (and just as morally challenging) themes covered in Volume 1. As with its predecessor, this album will also have you thinking Jack Handey caliber deep thoughts - cynical, if not obvious, but with a wry smile and a spattering of dark humor.

Musically, this album has something for everyone. It's got grungy grit, earworm hooks, classic prog pomp, power pop chops, yacht rock smoothness, and of course - vocal harmonies and lyrical witticism for days. Plus, I would be remiss if I didn't give a nod to the 15 minute epic monster which contains one of the most beautifully executed non-derivative Beatlesque moments in art rock I've heard in a long time. On top of this, the production value on this album is really solid. Everything has been mixed into a deliberate space, and the drums have a really immersive live feel.

My only criticisms of this album are largely subjective. There are passages where I feel the melodic guitars could have been brought more to the fore, and there are also a few moments of sonic disparity from song to song which seemed to throw the flow off a bit, but neither of these two issues were disconcerting enough to warrant demerits. As with many other bands I enjoy, different combinations of songwriters produce different results, which to me is more of an asset than a detriment, broadening the musical palette and allowing creative diversity to bloom.

Taken alone, this album is at least a solid 4-star effort. Taken as a companion piece to Volume 1, it becomes much more. That creative vision in itself pushes the "Ones and Zeros" Duology to solid 5-star territory - an essential two-part listen for those interested in the present and future of American crossover art rock.

thesmokingman | 5/5 |


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