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Jolly - The Audio Guide To Happiness Part 1 CD (album) cover





3.54 | 61 ratings

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5 stars I have never felt compelled to write an album review until I heard JOLLY's "The Audio Guide to Happiness." I thought that I couldn't get totally excited about a new album the way I used to in high school, but this changed my whole outlook. This just felt like the first time I heard "Images and Words" or "Lateralus." Also, since I acquired the album in a not so honorable way, I figured I would at least tell world how I feel. JOLLY if you are reading this, I promise I will buy the album when it comes out in March.

I am a fan of progressive rock, but to me, this goes even beyond the "prog" genre. It is technically progressive, but only in it's complexity, and sophisticated delivery. Despite these facts, it's surprisingly accessible and catchy as hell. I am literally floored that there is still something new you can do with rock music, all while appearing effortless. It's sort of like a cross between Dream Theater, Mr. Bungle, and Alice in Chains, with some Tool and Soundgarden mixed in. Although, when reading that description, I feel like I am leaving out so much.

Not only is the music undeniable, but the JOLLY mystique is rather intriguing. They claim that they are some sort of "scientists" and they've put all kinds of crazy frequencies into the music that are supposed to make the listener experience happiness. I am a skeptic at heart, so my first thought is that it's a gimmick. But somehow the complexity and almost alien intelligence of this music actually makes this seem plausible. If they could compose music like this, then it's not such a far stretch that their claims have some truth to them. Not to mention I was quite happy after my first listen, but then again I don't know if that's a bad thing considering this is the first of 2 parts. Uh oh, am I going to die now?

JOLLY's press release says the following... "With this combination of musical, lyrical, and binaural stimulation, we are able to directly target the brain's limbic and autonomic nervous systems, almost completely bypassing the frontal lobe. In short, the emotions are directly addressed without being filtered through the brain's logic center. The listener can therefore see his/her emotion in its true form without being forced to oversimplify it with labels and categorizations. The result is an emotionally limber and self-aware brain completely accepting of its unique place in the world."

They also go on to mention that they did tests on 5000 people and a whole other bunch of crazy stuff. I'm still not quite sure what I think of all this.

Anyway, the album starts with a strange voice welcoming us into "The Audio Guide to Happiness" easing our nerves and lowering our heart rate, and then BOOM the most bad ass gritty riff just smashes you in the face! The track I am referring to is called "Ends Where it Starts." This song almost has elements of Korn in that it grooves with such a gritty bass bottom end. I also hear some "Filter" here.

This leads into what is probably one of the more commercial tracks on the album; "Joy." But don't be fooled by this track, it still throws you for a loop during the bridge all while keeping the elegance intact. Anthony Rondinone plays one of the coolest bass breakdowns I have ever heard. To me this song is just a masterpiece.

Next comes what is, to me, the biggest deviation from the JOLLY sound (although JOLLY's sound seems to be rooted in universality). The track I am referring to is called "Pretty Darlin'" This song sounds like it was recorded in a saloon somewhere between the Lithosphere and HELL. It's got a sexy dirty groove, and one of the catchiest hooks I have ever heard. Anadale's solo on this also gives me chills. Not only is he an incredible vocalist, but I keep forgetting that this guy is playing the guitar too! His touch is somewhere between David Gilmore and John Petrucci.

The next track is called "The Pattern." This one sounds like Muse and Dream theater mixed with Meshuggah. Only one word can describe this track- EPIC. I'm just going to leave it at that.

This leads right into "Storytime" which brings tears to my eyes. I'm not really sure what it is about, but the quazi-funky syncopated groove played by Louis Abramson counteracted by Joe Reilly's straight up classy somber piano chords just shoots chills down my spine. Rondinone's bass line just keeps your head bopping the whole time, while Anadale's vocal lines ingrain a sadness in your chest. A real dichotomy of feelings in this track.

Back comes the creepy voice, although this time she becomes even more creepy. Her voice sounds a little colder than she did in the beginning, and BEWARE of very unpleasant sound that closes this track. As offensive as this is, it really adds to the whole mood of the Audio Guide experience.

This shrieking distortion from hell flows right into the industrial seemingly NIN influenced "Still a Dream." I hear elements of "Marilyn Manson" Antichrist Superstar era in this track. Virtually every instrument is distorted climaxing into yet another bad ass JOLLY riff and then dropping to beautiful ambiance. Rondinone and Anadale play off of eachother in an almost jazz/skat duet, while Abramson plays a funky groove and Reilly drones on a beautiful pad. Such an interesting arrangement here. Just when you think it's over, the song then brings you to an even calmer, more ambiant techno-esque lounge beat outro.

What follows is "Radiae." This is a very lush and epic track all the way through. Joe Reilly's keyboards really shine on this track. The entire song ignites a feeling of inspiration and otherwordliness until the end when JOLLY decides to just ROCK! This riff sound like Black Sabbath while Anadale's Layne Staley inspired vocals bring the us back to the eerie acoustic picked out chords that started the track. This time the creepy voice returns, only now within a song rather than on her own independent track. "You are now experiencing a cerebral shift" she says. At this point, I fell on the floor and started hemorrhaging.. ...just kidding.

The next song is one of the craziest songs I have ever heard - "Where Everything's Perfect." I get hints of 311 in this track in the happy (jolly) vocal line. This song makes you want to just skip around and snap your fingers, but watch out, there are some very sadistic undertones. As the song progresses it gets darker and more demented until all of a sudden it goes into another one of Anadale's patented jazz skat vocal lines. I never thought I would like something like this but man oh man, it really works. Next, JOLLY takes us into a Dream Theater/Rush breakdown with some crazy drum and bass work by Abramson and Rondinone. After coming back to the happy vocal line for a bit, we are then faced with a riff that sounds like mutant clowns shooting barrels of puppies with flame throwers. This song just leaves you excited with confusion - a true original.

The final track of the Audio Guide to Happiness is, to me, one of the darkest tracks I've ever heard. I guess that's interesting that the darkest song I ever heard is being performed by a band named JOLLY. This track, entitled "Dorothy's Lament" sounds like a crowd of weeping widows being lead on a death march. The song brings us out with a beautiful ambiance that sounds almost like the music score to "Donnie Darko." This track is as powerful as it gets. It really shook me to my core.

And then, almost interrupting, the voice returns, cold and dry. "This concludes part 1, please insert disc 2." WHERE IS PART 2??? I WANT IT!!!!

JOLLY is a one of a kind. Their first album "Forty Six Minutes, Twelve Seconds of Music" proved their potential, but in the "Audio Guide to Happiness" JOLLY sets themselves apart from the bunch. This album is a true, honest to god musical masterpiece.

Prediction: JOLLY is going to be one of the most revered progressive rock bands of our time.

stup1ddream | 5/5 |


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