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Bozzio & Sheehan - Nine Short Films CD (album) cover

NINE SHORT FILMS

Bozzio & Sheehan

 

Progressive Metal

3.18 | 8 ratings

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1791 Overture
4 stars Gunn/Mastelotto-era King Crimson is the main influence here. Think The ConstruKction of Light: Cold synths, heavy, knotty rhythms, battering-ram drums, and a tense, industrial atmosphere. What's missing is the schizophrenic quirkiness - this record is extremely focused, and really does play like a series of short, intense movies that revolve around short, intense plots. In fact, though, the King Crimson influence turns out to be a superficial one - this album has a completely different mindset than the band or any of its side projects. The closest reference would be Trey Gunn's solo albums (perhaps Music for Pictures in particular), but I hesitate to say even that.

Nine Short Films basically consists in a series of very complex, repetitive drum and bass rhythms with a lot of odd times and a few shifts (either subtle or jarring, depending on what they're going for). The rhythmic base provides the groundwork for the keys and guitars to go off and do their thing, and they usually set to work creating a menacing atmosphere - sort of like if Faust composed their music very tightly. What ties this all together and moves the story along is Terry Bozzio's narration, which like the underlying music is very rhythmic and tense. Unlike the instrumental rhythms, however, which are either extremely busy or played at a frantic pace, Bozzio's vocals are steady and deliberate, which lends an odd tension to the whole experience. I've seen complaints that Bozzio is not a singer and therefore that he should have either closed his mouth or hired a "real vocalist" to do the job - but comments like these utterly miss the point, I think: there is no singing on this album, and I cannot honestly say that Bozzio does anything less than a superb job pioneering this new vocal style, whatever you want to call it. Kudos to him for both having the idea and pulling it off. In between the narrative sections, there are some instrumentals dispersed here and there, all of which are a breath of fresh air, and as you would imagine from this guys, pretty weird and exciting, too (moreover, since there aren't too many of them, none of them come off as superfluous or noodly).

So, what are well left with? I'm not sure. The metallic modern prog influences are all there, but excepting the solo sections, that's not what the music ends up sounding like because of the way it's written. Parts of it sound like a more sophisticated type of drum n' bass music (the electronic kind) gone mad, and there are possibly even some similarities with hip-hop (?!) lurking around. The narrative aspect of the music, meanwhile, has no real parallel that I'm aware of. In short, this album is a strange bird, and I'd rather let it speak for itself than go on with more pointless comparisons.

I've never really heard anything like this before, and I doubt I ever will again. The formula is intriguing - I have no doubt that an excellent niche genre could be created around it, but there's probably not enough of an audience for that. (Although I must say that Tony Levin's Slow Glide, off of his Stick Man album, would fit comfortably on this record. He likely listened to this album and enjoyed it - the influence is unsurprising, given that these guys run in the same circles) If you are a fan of King Crimson, or are looking for something utterly unique to sink your teeth into, listen to this album. Moreover, listen to it several times. Even if you end up not liking it, it's too interesting to pass up.

1791 Overture | 4/5 |

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