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Thinking Plague - In Extremis CD (album) cover

IN EXTREMIS

Thinking Plague

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.33 | 114 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Those reading regularly my reviews are aware that I listen to a fair amount of RIO records, and although not that much a favourite genre, I am generally receptive to RIO. However, I must say that, while I love UZ, AZ and many European groups, there is a dimension to RIO that I am not that big a fan of: the Henry Cow/Art Bears/Slapp Happy connection does not much for me. Musically halfway between those two crowds of musicians, Thinking Plague has also many things that disorient me so much for me to stop appreciating their music fully. And while this album is generally regarded as their best album (I confirm), it was their second start after a nine-year hiatus and turmoil. One notable addition is the weird-timbred Debbie Perry, which actually irritates me more than anything else on this album.

While the music is undisputedly prog in all its facets, I find that TP goes beyond their reach to render their music, rather impenetrable, confused and dare I say it, obtuse. Their music hovers between Univers Zero, Art Zoyd and Miriodor on the one side, but also takes the weirder sides of National Health, Crimson and Wyatt (Rock Bottom period, but also Cuckooland) on another side and for the rest, the HC/SH/AB connection. The tortured childish-like vocals do not make this music more accessible either, the constant beat/rhythm changes makes it disjointed and hard to accept. There is a rather interesting side to their music, though and most symphonic prog fans who love Anglagard should get a load of this album: at times they sound like the US- RIO equivalent of our beloved Vikings (their heavy use of the mellotrons is constant throughout the album), but somehow, they take the complexity so far that it almost becomes a sort of RIO-esque pastiche of it - as exemplified by the almost-grotesque Organism Studies' first movement. But the Drake/Kerman duo is certainly only of the highlights of the album, and they create a good solid basis for the rest of the group to expand upon. Many times, TP dips into atonal or dissonant digressions that do not always seem necessary, but it is an integral part of Thinking Plague's aesthetics.

What we have here is a very strong album, one that takes a sort of pride of not letting you win it over a bit too easily - you know, like that Foxy Lady acting that it has the choice of pretenders but in fact she is really desperate for you? Yes!!! That much! ;-) And in some is willingly complicating things in order to make her worth your run(t?;-), making you making you deceptively believe that the catch is better than the afore- mentioned chase.

Any way, back to this album (BTW, don't try this album on your foxy conquest, this is too twisted and..obtuse for any chick to get laid by it), Soooo the music, I was saying, will remain potent until you finally have completely digested it, which might take quite a while, (maybe even more than you wished) and you will keep discovering new twists. After that......you know..... that chase was better than that catch after all. Easilmy TP's best album in spite of my remarks.

Yours truly ;-)

PS: If you are a person that loves his Viking symphonic prog, this might be a not so obvious bridge towards the elusive RIO. But be prepared for a change of role, then!

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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