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Sigmund Snopek III - Trinity Seas, Seize, Sees CD (album) cover


Sigmund Snopek III


Eclectic Prog

3.09 | 4 ratings

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3 stars This is one Sigmund Snopek III album that I wanted to like, I really did. There were a lot of good signs when I read about it and finally sprung for a copy of the Musea CD version. The packaging is hefty; two pretty full discs, a fat booklet full of lyrics, bios of the various guest artists, some original artwork and a bit of Snopek's personal and professional history lined out in the back of the edition. And speaking of guest musicians, Snopek has a vast collection of acquaintances, and while most of them are fairly unknown nationally there are a few on here that are worthy of notice. Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes, a band Snopek has a long history with, appears on a couple tracks playing acoustic bass and something called a Shakuhachi flute. Xeno (aka Randy Hogan) was the original vocalist in the arena rock band Cheap Trick before being replaced by the much better (and more well- known) Robin Zander. And Jack Grassel plays guitar on the second and third acts of this three-act suite. Grassel has written a bunch of guitar technique books including one in my oldest son's collection, so naturally I was a bit curious.

And the back story is rather interesting as well. Like so 'Nobody to Dream', one of Snopek's other albums, the music here dates back to early in his musical career, the first nineteen songs or so having been written in the early seventies and much of the second act added shortly after. And also like that other album Snopek performed this music (at least the first disc's worth) live in the mid-seventies. The first act was issued on vinyl in 1974, with the rest being recorded in the mid- to late-nineties and released as a two-disc set in 2000.

This is a 'space rock' theme album as Snopek tells the story, one he says was inspired by the emergence of space rock bands like Hawkwind and Amon Duul, although to be hinest most of it sounds a lot more like Gong and other Canterbury acts from the seventies. The songwriting has that same sort of amateurish vibe that so characterize so much of Daevid Allen's work as well, so perhaps there are other influences at work here.

The stereotype of Midwestern American white working men telling tales of alien abduction is certainly a prevalent one in our modern society, but Snopek takes the idea a step further and constructs a tale of an alien (a 'Bubble Freak') raised on Earth before being forced to return to his native planet Seize. Klaatu also comes to mind while listening to this album, not musically but due to the similar penchant for sophomoric space tales in the lyrics. There's more to the story as the alien struggles to escape the 'benevolent' leadership of his homeland in search of true freedom. I get all this from the narrative interspersed throughout the album and from the liner notes, since most of the lyrics are rather abstract, poetic and not obviously related to the story being told.

In all this is a mildly interesting album and certainly an ambitious effort on Snopek's part, especially his effort of piecing together the original seventies tracks with the later material thanks to a host of guest artists. And while the music is undeniably progressive with constant tempo shifts, lengthy instrumentals, conceptual lyrics and mostly complex playing, in the end I'm left feeling like the general idea has been done before (and much better) by Gong, Jeff Wayne and a host of others.

For those who follow Snopek or are at least curious as to what his progressive period sounds like I would recommend this as the best example. But as a blip in the pantheon of prog rock I have to say it is no better than average, and therefore deserving of no more than three stars. 'Virginia Woolfe' which predates this one is somewhat more cohesive and succinct and I would rate it slightly better as a progressive rock album, while 'WisconsInsane' reveals Snopek at his best as a pop artist with prog leanings. Check out either one of those first and if you are still interested then you may find this one worth picking up.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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