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Frogg Cafe - Bateless Edge CD (album) cover

BATELESS EDGE

Frogg Cafe

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.93 | 187 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Well, in 2010, few albums came to match Bateless Edge, which I am a bit ashamed was my first contact with the band, although I ordered the double live Safenzee Diaries at the same time, because it was a recap of everything they'd done previously (or at least I thought it was). I had in mind that FC sounded like a few eclectic US bands like French TV, Echolyn and others, and to be honest, I didn't expect that much jazz influences (well mainly the wind instruments), although there is no way you would find FC's works in the jazz- section of record store. So the fifth album from this MYC combo appears to be the one were they crack the major leagues, up from their (sometimes still-audible) Zappaesque origins, which might have looked like some regional reserve and future talent farm team.

Unfortunately, as with most younger generation band, FC cannot help but to serve the coffee filled to the brim and this bugger last almost 80 mins, which is simply too much, despite the wide spectrum of musical ideas splashed on. Despite a very brilliant execution, I find that the band's will to rake as wide as possible can get them in trouble. Not that they're musically in over their head, but the album's systematic picking all over the spectrum makes a dent in their credibility and kind of damages the album's cohesiveness. Yes, the band goes from a slightly Indian soundscape (the tamboura of the opening Terra Sancta) to catchy sung music (the same Terra Sancta) to the typically clown-esque Zappa delirium (the marimbas in Mover Over) to an approximate Kansas-Phish style (the vocals for the former & the semi-country rock for the latter) for the album-weakspot of From The Fence. They also rape the Klezmer/Manouche world when grinding it with an RIO grater with the BBB track and later (or earlier I should say) also create a simili-symphonic classical music evolving into an unconvincing Zeuhl inferno (the FaZeuhl Pastiche) and end up in a GG meets Magma meets Samla Manna soundscape. This all flawlessly played, but it's the pure collage of these ideas that's a bit too apparent.

Elsewhere, the three-movement Wuhu Son suite isn't starting strong, with the opening Bright Light, which sounds like the typical (boring) neo-prog (ala Echolyn meets Arena) with semi-whining vocals, then evolving into semi-metallic guitar passage in the second Left For Dead movement - here, you could think of those crazy Finns of Alamaailman Vasarat or a goofy second-rate Univers Zero. The third Against The Fall movement is a bizarre mix of everything you've heard in the rest of the album (including these ludicrous marimbas), and while it has charms, you're glad when it stops. Indeed it sounds like they're trying too hard, and it is not the only place of BE it happens.

Don't get me wrong, my words might seem a little harsh, but overall BE deserves the accolade it got and that raised in most prog sites and publications' top 5 of 2010. One of the best advices I could give to the band is to come up with another strong albums as this one, but lose the marimbas and the neo-prog vocals, and they will shoot up the big league ranking to the contender status, rather than an also-ran label. Although the album will probably suffer the test of time, it still remains an early 10's most-noteworthy oeuvre, one that most everyone should at least have heard a few times.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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