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Frogg Cafe - Bateless Edge CD (album) cover

BATELESS EDGE

Frogg Cafe

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.92 | 188 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It really grew on me...!

This album has been with me for quite a long time and I did not get a chance to really have a look the album in details as so many good and excellent prog albums released nowadays - so I kept delaying this one unless the first track that blew me away at first listen. The rest track was quite tough for me to understand and then i did not really get into it in detail. And now, having listened to this album for more than 6 times in its entirely I then got a final wrap up session to form my final view about this one as you have known it from the stars I put for this album. Yes, it's definitely a masterpiece album of progressive music and I have many rationales why I say it so! Just bear with me for a second ....

As we all know that Frogg Café embryo was born in 1998 as a Frank Zappa cover band called Lumpy Gravy performing Zappa's difficult music on Long Island and New York City. In 2000, the band was in transition and found a new beginning with the addition of percussionist James Guarnieri to the band. At this point, the band changed its name to Frogg Café and started to perform original music with a host of discernable influences in their sound such as Zappa, Yes, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Focus, Genesis, and even the more avant-garde styles. The members of this unique group are Nick Lieto (vocals, keyboards, trumpet), Steven Uh (guitars), Bill Ayasse (violin, mandolin), Andrew Sussman (bass), and James Guarnieri (drums). All of the members of Frogg Café are university trained in music.

However, it does not necessarily means that I make my final view on this album because of the members are academia rather this view is really based on my more than 38 years plus dealing with what so called progressive music as listener and big fan of the music and not as a player as I know to play prog music is really tough. This also means that I make a reasonable comparison with other albums of prog not limited on the type of music Frogg Cafe is playing - you know that kind of Zappa or even Canterbury Scene. You know why? Because Frogg Cafe music is somewhat covering many subgenres of music with probably jazz and canterbury as one of their roots. Actually, I do not really mind how you categorize Frogg Cafe's music.

Terra Sancta (12:25) is really a mind blower as the music is really unexpectedly great from start to end! This is true as I really enjoy from the opening part which at first listen sound weird to my ears but as the music moves couple of minutes I suddenly feel like flown through with music. I might cal it something like jazz even though it's not really because I cannot relate with any kind of music that I have ever heard it before. It's probably Zappa is the closest comparison even though this one pushed to the next level. I really love when the music enters interlude part where it has stunning long guitar solo combined with wonderful piano work. It's really great. I sometime forget that this is Frogg Cafe when I am in the interlude part because the guitar solo is really rocking despite unusual rhythm section using drums and solid basslines as well as piano work. It's definitely a masterpiece track.

Unlike the opening track, this Move Over I'm Driving (7:58) is basically an instrumental track which at first listen did not impress me at all. The chief reason was that this one is lacking on melody - or maybe there is melody but somewhat it has been successfully hidden by the band. It's really hard to capture where the music is leaning to. But when I got rid off my struggle to find the corresponding melody of this confusing arrangement - I finally enjoyed the music of this second track entirely. I enjoy ever single segment of how the brass section, piano and bass make their ways to the music - the louder I play the music the more I like it.

Pasta Fazeuhl (14:02) Now with this third track I am totally confused with the direction of this music as this one is totally different with the first two tracks. I would say this third track is somewhat an exploration of King Crimson's Lark's Tounge in Aspec but the band pushes the envelope harder and make it much more avant garde in nature. Oh man ... I really enjoy this confusing third track even though there are repeated chords or segments but that what make this track really wonderful. I am writing this review enthusiastically as I am playing the music loud with a decent stereo set - so I'm really "into" the music of Frogg Cafe. BTW, I forgot to mention that the production quality of this album is really superb! That's why I recommend you to play this one LOUD and you will be amazed with the subtleties of the music as it moves with your emotion.

Under Wuhu Son: In the Bright Light (8:22) starts nicely with a combined guitar (acoustic), violin, basslines for relatively long period before it enters to a very interesting part when drums enters the scene. The use of brass section makes the music is really accentuated beautifully. The vocal then enters nicely in a style that typically used by Simon and Garfunkel in 'Scarborough Fair'. But again this band is really brilliant because the vocal line does not represent certain melody line that you can emulate until it enters the coda part which the melody is really nice. There are nice breaks with violin and guitar work. Oh really WONDERFUL!!!!

It then continue seamlessly to the second part of the epic Under Wuhu Son: Left for Dead (5:36) where you can hear a bit like progressive metal tune in its heavy riffs. This suffices to say that the music of Frogg Cafe is explorative in nature as it blends many types of musical subgenres. The use of brass section in this track is nice and it is combined with some breaks with violin worn as well as acoustic guitar. The music suddenly breaks with temporary stop of brass work and let drums and bass guitar to work in couple of seconds followed then with solo trumpet and vibraphone work - it's really nice!

The final part of the epic Under Wuhu Son: Brace Against the Fall (6:15) starts with an ambient guitar work followed again with music with solid basslines and brass section that brings the vocal to enter. It's an unexpected entrance of vocal, actually, but it's really nice especially when it's accompanied by powerful and solid bass lines. Oh man ...definitely you have to have this album and I'm keen to know how you feel about it. To me this album is so greaaaaatttt ...!!!

I leave it up to you to comment the remaining two long tracks "From the Fence" (12:05) and "Belgian Boogie Board" (10:31) once you get the album with you.

Overall, I really admire this band as the music is much more mature now having been releasing previous excellent albums and all of them I really enjoy them. The composition is quite unique as I think they really don't care about creating memorable melody - indeen most of their tracks are not memorable melody-wise. Well, I think they do this by design and be it - why concerns much on melody as this is prog music man! The structure is really unique as it changes as the song moves its way from start to end with many changes of tempo. The excellent part is that even though the music is like in parts with no guiding memorable melody, the album is cohesive as whole and it has a solid structural integrity. I cannot give less than five stars for this masterpiece one! Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 5/5 |

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