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District 97 - Trouble With Machines CD (album) cover


District 97


Crossover Prog

3.92 | 167 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Life Line Project
5 stars Last week I visited my favourite cd-shop to upgrade my collection and one of the albums I bought was "Trouble With Machines" by District 97, a real fantastic band from Chicago. I played it over and over again and at every new listening I grew more convinced of the qualities of this album. I think that it will become my 2012 favourite album.

I was deeply impressed by the great ease with which ail musicians played the seven songs on this album. Led by an unchained Jonathan Schang on drums (an unbelievable talented drummer) the band move through all sorts of complex riffs and often jazz based chord progressions. The bass playing by Patrick Mulcahy is as solid as a rock and his performing of an infinite number of marvellous riffs, cleverly doubled by guitarist Jim Tashjian is a true lust for the ear.

Jim Tashjian shifts seamless from complex riffs in strange times and rhythms to beautiful melodic solo's and complex two hand tapping virtuosities, a fantastic guitar player!

Keyboard player Rob Clearfield delivers with his well-chosen keyboard sounds the perfect finishing touch to this great band sound. His playing reminds me of course a lot of Eddie Jobson in his UK days, but also of Morgan Fisher on his brilliant Brown Out album, the same weird and aggressive, but at the same time beautiful solo's and perfect mastering of the instrument.

Then we have the next trump chard up the sleeve of D 97, singer Leslie Hunt, who moves her voice in an extremely agile way through the most complex jazz based vocal lines. Her voice still has to mature a bit to keep the warmth in all registers, but I was deeply impressed by her vocal qualities. "Open Your Eyes" (where did I hear that title before?) is an instant smash hit, that keeps haunting your mind. Leslie is probably one of the best singers in the progressive scene of this moment.

District 97 have developed a true own sound, but of course there are some bands you could refer to, in order to give an idea of what you may expect. The vocal lines seem to be inspired by the more avant garde and progressive Duke Ellington vocal compositions, but put in a completely different musical landscape. The same was done by Tim Staffel on the already mentioned Morgan album Brown Out of the seventies, one of my all time favourites. On this album you can also enjoy sudden outbursts of baroque music like in "Open Your Eyes". Lovers of the first UK album or the music of Gentle Giant will also be very pleased with District 97.

The enthusiasm with which the band approach and perform their music is incredible and contagious. Most of the music is filled to the brim with aggression, caused by that tad bit of nu- metal influence in the riffs and some of the vocal parts, that's just right to spice up the sound. But don't think there is no time for more introverted moments. Just listen to the perfectly executed cello part played by guest Katinka Kleijn in "Read Your Mind" or the beautiful piano introduction to ''The Thief' , the longest and most elaborate composition (13:43) on the album.

Another bonus on the album is a vocal contribution by John Wetton (!) in ''The Perfect Young Man". This album is just great, every composition is an explosion of virtuosity and an outburst of musical inspiration and I think that every true proglover should have at least one District 97 album in his collection and "Trouble With Machines" would be a very wise choice.

Erik de Beer

Life Line Project | 5/5 |


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