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Perhaps - Volume One CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.97 | 108 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 13/15P. This group accomplishes something which nowadays is totally unusual in that genre: they feed fractured, riff-laden high-speed alternative rock with genuine emotion. All of the riffs and crude time signatures are performed with a cathartic rawness which is amazing in its recklessness. Highly recommendable!

I'm pretty amazed how democratic and liberal the music scene has become thanks to institutions such as the ProgArchives. Perhaps, a pretty unknown band project from somewhere in the United States, posted the link to their debut record in the forum, sent some private messages around to advert to their music - and the opinions of many fascinated reviewers came around most rapidly.

Frankly I'm not really interested in recent music if it calls itself 'progressive rock'. Too often this simply means a lukewarm extraction of ideas which were authentic and inventive long time ago. And too often you have to sit through big accumulations of riffs which are perfectly exerted, but which leave you asking why you actually listen to this kind of music if nothing really grabs your mind.

This album cannot be defined by any genre name. The concept, i.e. throwing the listener into an extended spacy trip while rattling his head with some edgy stoner riffs from time to time, could be compared to what Amon Düül once intended to do with Phallus Dei and Yeti. But don't understand any comparison which I mention in this review as a concrete point of similarity, but rather as an indefinite and vague speculation about which musicians these guys might have listened to in their youth.

The beginning of Volume One is pretty inconspicuous, consisting of some low-key ambient textures. But the rumbling (3+3+2)/8 part which comes afterwards, approximately after two minutes or so, is a perfect signpost in which directions the whole matter is not going to go: mushy prog metal, Genesis-like retro prog and ambient music. You don't know what is going to happen during the course of the 38 minutes, but the perfectly balanced and energetic analog sound - loud, boosty and with an estimated constant tape recording level of ~+0-5dB - and the crunchy guitars are big fun to listen to.

From this point the band navigates through lots of different sections which are interrupted again and again, but the whole piece is firmly kept together by a consistent feeling. Concerning the guitars you might feel reminded of Steve Howe and Syd Barrett from time to time (I sometimes also feel reminded of Conrad Keely of Trail of Dead live in concert), but basically guitarist Sean McDernott just does what he likes. This includes competent finger picking, distorted octaved solo lines, controlled fiddling with the tuning mechanics and lots of wild shredding. I especially appreciate the weird frequency modulations which most of the participating instruments are sent through. At every corner you find some noisy bits or a breakdown with shrieking oscillator sounds - and then the whole motor starts turning again, just like a checkered little machine which is busy rotating and firing in every possible direction all of the time. And this strange little machine is mainly propelled by the joint forces of Don Taylor (drums) and Jim Haney (bass). They don't catch the listener's ears by solo parts, but rather work as a unit with a reliable timing and exact interplay throughout the big multitude of signature changes. Those two guys definitely deserve to be listened to concentratedly as well!

A further perfectly working ingredient in this colorful melange are the brass instruments. They don't dominate the music at any time, but rather appear as solists with a defined solo part at one place or another. A part which already appealed to me at the first listen was the saxophone solo at 8:01; and while the saxophone improvisation is really good by itself, I'm even a bit more amazed about the sustained jazzy guitar shredding McDernott adds about two minutes later. It's savage and rough, but its frame is melodic, and this type of fiddling and string bending is what makes improvisations like these successful. This passage gives me the same kind of feeling I get when I listen to Matching Mole's Part of the Dance - also a piece which profits from three soloists jamming at the same time. Of course, the brass instruments on this album are also processed through various filters and contribute to the surreal and gurgling atmosphere of the piece. And I may not forget to mention the brief parts which show up repeatedly for some seconds and sound like marches of a village brass band, arranged for bass, drums and guitar. I never heard something like this in that context!

If there is one section in Volume One which allows a split of the piece, it's the cesura around the 30 minutes mark. The last 8 minutes which follow afterwards are performed in a slow 6/8 metre and are the closest the band comes to post rock. Starting from a peaceful double-tracked guitar part the band adds layer on layer until an uplifting string arrangement (yes, a real arrangement, scored by Ben Talmy) prepares the listener for a grandiose soaring guitar solo which affords a worthy finale to this utterly great album.

Of course, assigning a 'masterpiece' label to a debut album (which too was released some mere weeks ago) isn't really justifiable. As soon as new albums follow one will see where this band project is heading to. Whilst the music works out perfectly well without vocals, I could imagine it could work out a little bit better if its frame was more concise at some places. But I'm really not sure - repeated listens might reveal new details about this piece, maybe things which could have been better, maybe parts whose great purpose I cannot even guess at the moment. A preliminary 4-star rating (actually a 4.5-rating), anyway, seems absolutely legitimate - connected with the strong recommendation to listen to this piece (it's available via streaming, donation-funded download and (!) MC cassette).

Einsetumadur | 4/5 |


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