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Nick Prol and The Proletarians - Loon Attic CD (album) cover


Nick Prol and The Proletarians



3.97 | 10 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars In the world of progressive rock, it seems more likely than not that you will encounter the more serious side of the musical world with only smatterings of humor scattered about however as the late great Frank Zappa demonstrated long ago, you can craft some killa tunes while existing in your own zany world of humor! While a few bands like Mr Bungle and of course the English Canterbury Scene were instrumental in adding heavy doses of whimsy to their complex musical smorgasbords, it still seems like the exception rather than the rule. So what a wonderful day when i discover a newer band that excels in marrying these two aspects of serious compositional fortitude with the utterly absurd and may i present to you NICK PROL & THE PROLETARIANS!

Background check first. NICK PROL currently resides in Tucson, Arizona but originates from Maryland, the state where he pays homage on this album's final track "O Merry Land." NICK has been inspired by many an artist from the way back machine but found the most love in the world of the RIO / avant-prog camp with bands like Cardiacs, Henry Cow and Frank Zappa topping the list. Having crafted a wily batch of demos for further development, NICK got the wild idea to reach out to some of his favorite musicians in the biz and politely asked them to record various tracks for his debut album LOON ATTIC. To NICK's surprise the various members accepted the challenge and thus NICK PROL & THE PROLETARIANS was born!

NICK's musical tastes cast a wide net and the various lineups on LOON ATTIC reflect that quite well. Of the 23 tracks included each has a completely different array of musicians adding their personal stamp and thus LOON ATTIC has an extremely eclectic feel as it mutates from one track to another. The core band known as THE PROLETARIANS consists of NICK PROL (vocals, guitar, compositions), Ben Spees (bass and plays in The Mercury Tree), Connor Reilly (drums and also plays in The Mercury Tree) and Dave Newhouse (woodwinds and plays with The Muffins) and some of the many guests involve include:

-Charlie Cawood of "Knifeworld" played bass on Carvings On the Wall. -Moe Staiano of "Sleepytime Gorilla Museum" played misc. percussion on multiple tracks. -Dave Willey of "Thinking Plague" and "Hamster Theater" played accordion on 8th Wonder. -Paul Sears of "The Muffins" played drums on 8th Wonder. -Mohadev of "Stop Motion Orchestra" played guitar solos on multiple songs. - Thymme Jones of "Cheer-Accident" played drums, trumpet, and moog on Shiny and Round. -Bob Drake of "5uus/Thinking Plague/Solo work" sang (and spoke) on Box of Flies. -Matt Lebofsky of "Secret Chiefs 3" provided keyboards on multiple tracks. - Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth of "Bent Knee" played drums on Another Groan -Rob Crow of "Pinback/Heavy Vegetable/Thingy/etc" sang and played guitar on Beekeeper's Suit. -R. Stevie Moore of DIY pop music fame sang, played guitar, drummed, and added the sad pitiful trumpet to Beekeeper's Suit. All guests are listed for each track on the Bandcamp page.

LOON ATTIC isn't just a random album of scattered ideas floating around but as PROL himself describes it: "The album's concept was a cabinet of curiosities of sorts, with songs about old, strange, broken things. It was also inspired by the film "The Hourglass Sanatorium" by Wojciech Has." If you're not in the know, that film follows a young Jewish man who visits his father in a mystical sanatorium where time does not behave normally. It won the Jury Prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. So how's that for a concept? Weirdness awaits! Despite the wacky concepts and the avant-garde inspirations, LOON ATTIC is a fairly accessible listening experience by typical RIO / avant-prog standards as it also incorporates ample servings of progressive pop elements to make it all so addictively accessible. Detectable influences include XTC, Prefab Sprout, Brian Eno, Sparks and even The Beach Boys! The style has been self-described as Pop In Opposition!

Despite 23 tracks on board of this wild roller coast ride, LOON ATTIC just misses the 50 minute playing time and most tracks hover around the 2 minute mark. Only "Carvings On The Wall" and "Beekeeper's Suit" exceed the 4 minute mark and then just barely. Musically LOON ATTIC is an excellent mix of jittery angular avant-prog but smoothed out with the quirky pop characteristics of 70s Brian Eno's art pop phase and the zolo quirkiness of 70s Sparks. With a veritable mix of modern avant-prog talent joining in, each guest musician brings their own idiosyncratic playing style to the work table but yet somehow despite all odds, LOON ATTIC comes off as a fairly linear albeit jittery quirked filled run from beginning to end. While the album ranges from off-kilter avant-pop to over- the-top RIO dipping into Henry Cow territory along with Zappa-esque silliness and psychedelic cuddliness, the wacky yet strange album never strays into the chaosphere or too far from the gravitational pull of emotional connections.

Generally speaking, the tracks all have an indie pop / rock sort of vocal delivery with dissonant guitar chords / riffs and although steeped in pop hooks still retain that good old-fashioned avant-prog feel with quirky stop / start time signatures and hairpin turns into strangeness. Certain tracks like "It Bodes Well" even dive into metal territory for brief moments but overall the album has a rather jocular circus vibe to it despite not exuding circus music per se. When all is said and done, NICK PROL & THE PROLETARIANS deliver a solid album of wickedly wild avant-pop laced with progressive rock and indie rock sensibilities. Dripping with humorous touches and esoteric references, LOON ATTIC can be entertaining as a light-hearted no nonsense listening experience or taken on a deeper level if you want to find hidden meanings in all these tracks and lyrics. I prefer the former! Definitely for fans of Cardiacs and Bungle related projects but will certainly appeal to the Zappa crowds as well.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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