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Bob Drake - The Gardens of Beastley Manor CD (album) cover


Bob Drake



4.05 | 3 ratings

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4 stars Bob Drake is a RIO/Avant Prog artist from Cleveland, Ohio. He is a multi-instrumentalist, and has been active in the experimental music scene for quite some time. He released his first solo album in 1994 and in September of 2019, released his 11th album known as "The Gardens of Beastley Manor". He plays all of the instruments on this 22 track album with only one exception on track 19 ("A Secret Was Always Provided, Part II") where guest Mark Lockett plays the cello. The album is full of short pieces which is apparent knowing the total run-time is just over 37 minutes. The entire album was recorded at his home in France.

You know you are in for an interesting ride when the music starts with a banjo, and then woodwinds and several other strange and interesting instruments start coming in as he uses a 20th Century style of classical composition utilizing contrasting modes and melodic lines to compliment and clash with each other. The music is playful, as in "Rococo Raccon and the Heavy Décor" where instruments chase each other around as they share the chaotic melody, or strangely odd yet catchy as in "Terminal Vista" which suddenly gets mysterious and minimalist only to end in a short burst of chaos.

It would be tough to try to analyze each of these unique and odd songs, but you can imagine some of the scenes the titles suggest from the contemporary composing style that he uses, and the cool array of instruments that he incorporates into the music to give you the textures for each song. Also, each little piece portrays that scene quite well, and using your imagination, you will feel like you are sitting on a bench in the garden watching all of these scenes take place. All of the tracks, except one, are less than 3 minutes, but they are each sufficient to portray the scenes they are representing. All you need basically, is your imagination and the titles to the tracks, and you are set. Or, if you choose just to sit and listen to the music, you will recognize the fact that you are listening to an accomplished composer and musician. The complicated music can be rather obviously complex as in "Thence an Inclined Path" which utilizes piano, banjo, violin, drums, electric guitar and more, each with it's own important statement to make, and this is what you will get throughout. Every sound and note is placed in each track for a reason, and each listen will make new things apparent.

If you don't like the impressionistic style, then this music will not be for you. Even though he uses mostly contemporary rock ensemble instruments, this music sounds like classical music but with a more modern and dissonant approach, In other words, the 20th Century style. However, if you love the unpredictable and experimental sound of RIO and Avant Prog, then this is for you. Lovers of Frank Zappa's classical style will enjoy this, however the music is a bit less busy and maybe more thematic than Zappa's compositional style.

TCat | 4/5 |


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