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Dredg - Catch Without Arms CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.45 | 139 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars El Cielo has a little sister, and that sister's name is Catch Without Arms. I cannot imagine someone falling in love with El Cielo and dismissing this treasure, which may be outshined a bit by its predecessor but still shines brightly just the same. I can, however, understand the upturned noses of those expecting this to resemble anything like Yes or King Crimson: Catch Without Arms comes nowhere near the symphonic or eclectic styles of progressive rock. Indeed, the progressive nature of the music is admittedly elusive, but I think what sets it apart from the mainstream acts to which it may fairly be compared (U2, for instance) are the lyrics. The lead singer implies that this is a concept album, that the record is divided into two contrasting parts and that the lyrics reflect opposites or areas of contention. With no disrespect to the songwriter intended, I just don't see it. The lyrics are esoteric and elude a solid interpretation on my part, and yet each syllable, when blessed with their respective melodies, is so persuasive. To complicate things further, each song has a companion painting, each of them bizarre and abstract. Whatever the case, I know I don't have to understand something to love it. The first word in the title is the clue: This is some of the catchiest music I can possibly think of.

"Ode to the Sun" It's always a pleasure to hear the distinctive earnest vocals of Gavin Hayes. After the guitars materialize in post-rock fashion, we're treated to the first in a long series of powerful rock songs with strong, memorable choruses.

"Bug Eyes" Launching into the second potent rocker, awash with guitars and a redolent vocal melody, dredg paints a pretty and nostalgic picture. It causes me to reflect on my life and ask myself if I've been a good steward of the seconds I've been given and the breaths I've taken: "It's time to do something good for my health, time to do something good for myself. I've wasted all this time."

"Catch Without Arms" The star of the title track is the bassist, who lays down a cool groove for the verses. Again, the vocal melodies are stellar (okay, I'm going to say that a lot in this review, so bear with me).

"Not That Simple" The velvety verse leads into the first chorus, which is sung sweet and low. The second refrain is heartening, reminding me that life is ultimately all about trust. And what a brilliant reminder it is. A child's off-key rendition "Planting Seeds" makes me smile.

"Zebraskin" Here's a song I can relate to: "A couple of drinks midday; haven't felt this way since yesterday." The music takes a detour from the hard-hitting pop rock and eases into a comfortable nightclub feel.

"The Tanbark is Hot Lava" A strange title indeed, but the music is straightforward and well-driven. The rhythm is rapid fire and the singing is especially forceful.

"Sang Real" dredg adds a feathery piano over electronic-sounding drums as the simple slippery lead guitar motif slides over it. The chorus is on the softer side, downy and yet somehow persuasive. Strange chattering concludes the track.

"Planting Seeds" The first song of the second part rises like a typical post rock track before the bassist delivers another compelling riff under light clean guitar. I wonder if the seashell found in a sea of shells is deliberately ambiguous: Are we to imagine something found in a large group of like objects, or are the shells more menacing (bullet casings, perhaps?). Whatever the import of the words, they resonate with me in a way that evades description.

"Spitshine" "Spitshine" is another abstruse song ("You spit-shined my corroded halo, then packaged it away; you spit-shined my corroded halo and left it to decay"), but musically it is quite simplistic and easy to follow. "Take this weight off my shoulders and move it to my brain," the singer says. How I've often wished for the opposite.

"Jamais Vu" This opens with a hasty cleanly plucked guitar phrase, though the drums are more languid. Again, the vocal melodies are magnificent, soaring high above the music like the majestic eagle over lovely landscapes.

"Hung Over on a Tuesday" Been there, done that. The music is similar to what has come before. I find dredg to be refreshingly consistent on this album, and they still finds a way to dazzle with compelling vocal melodies.

"Matroshka (The Ornament)" The most peaceful song has electric guitars that almost sound like a distorted organ. The lighter guitars add an attractive texture. It ends the album wonderfully, keeping the reminiscent feel.

Epignosis | 5/5 |


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