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3RDegree - The Long Division CD (album) cover

THE LONG DIVISION

3RDegree

 

Crossover Prog

4.10 | 152 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars 3rDegree's "The Long Division" is the 2012 album from the quintet. Opening with 'You're Fooling Yourselves', a bouncy uptempo track with some catchy chorus phrases, the album is an uplifting and innovative journey. The album is well produced by Robert James Pashman, George Dobbs and Patrick Kliesch, and mixed by Angelo Panetta with clarity, allowing every musician to be heard, including some exceptional harmonies. Songs like 'Incoherent Ramblings' are replete with vocal harmonising layered over with outstanding keyboard and guitar vibrations. The sound is akin to Gentle Giant meets 10CC, or the weirder side of Godley and Crème.

The lyrics are at times politically enhanced with observations about the problems facing the world, such as on 'You're Fooling Yourselves'; "you with delusions of political domination, you with attack ads of character assassination, selling us out without a doubt is what you're about." These Marxist musings have a hard cynical edge and are some of the more intelligent lyrics from a progressive act I have read. Tom Hamlyn's cover art is also jarring, depicting a queue of the everyman that are trying to get to their destination but are thwarted by the crack in the earth, ironically the blue men are stuck in the red scape and the red men are trapped in the blue scape. The inner jacket has a picture of a bear attacking a bull, and the band are seen with the American flag and the constitution that emits the words "Under God" which spells out the feelings toward modern censorship and change in our politically correct society.

Highlights such as 'The Ones to Follow' features chimes, strong drum beats from Aaron Nobel, punctuated by Robert James Pashman's bassline and muscular guitars by Eric Pseja and Patrick Kliesch to create a wall of sound. The vocals are melodic and creatively executed by lead vocalist, keyboardist George Dobbs.

There are some fractured signatures and time changes with quirky melodies of complex arrangement such as on 'Exit Strategy', a song that encompasses a myriad of musical ideas and mood swings. This is perhaps the best song on the album due to the infectious melodies and excellent guitar riffs, along with bold musicianship; the bassline is stunning along with the keyboard runs, and off kilter drums. The band are virtuoso musicians and even include tenor sax by Bill Fox and flute by Rob Durham on 'A Work of Art'.

An angry crowd opens the epic 'The Socio-Economic Petri Dish', with a grand majestic prelude with some wonderful musicianship. This builds into a blazing tempo and aggressive vocals "the future's jeopardised, soon there will be no place for our kind, presently terrified, faced with the horrors of a Biblical blight." The song locks into a melody driven passage of instrumentation including some incredible keyboard workouts from Dobbs.

Things get very progressive and adventurous with 'Televised', a standout track that has a jaunty offbeat time sig, and some shifting moods with interchanging percussion and bass. The lyrics are thought provoking, attacking the triviality of reality TV and shock talk shows; "thanks for sharing that, your divorce has been televised, your intercourse has been televised, you're ratings gold, you have been sold, this life isn't yours, see dotted line, to be sure when you're televised, par for the course you will be despised, the cannon fodder of checkout lines". The song careens all over the place, much like someone remote surfing as they move from channel to channel.

This is followed by a tranquil acoustic instrumental 'The Millions of Lost Moments', and then a measured cadence permeates 'Memetic Pandemic', a song that focuses on refusing the handouts and hand me downs that are offered by various factions. It is about taking back what is rightfully ours that has been taken from us, with some insightful lyrics; "man's reach exceeds the grasp around the throats of those he must compel, that deciding moment should he take his rightful place, we'll bathe in all his glory of accomplishment and grace."

These ideas are taken up further in 'A Nihilist's Love Song' where "all that is and all that was is meaningless", sounding like a verse from Ecclesiastes. The pessimistic song is backed well by crunching guitars and a catchy harmonised phrase. The concept of the album is definitely that the world could be a better place and the media are mostly to blame for the turmoil; a sobering idea and a daring one at that. It is a catch 22 when one attacks the media and yet a band requires the media to be exposed such as in reviews and utilising film clips to promote an album.

Overall "The Long Division" is a provocative and compelling experience with some exceptional musical finesse. There are moments that traverse into inventive progressive territory and yet it is a very accessible album. 3rDegree never veer too far from their friendly sound but tend to experiment at times with odd time sigs and missed rhythms to create a soundscape that draws the listener in. The musical textures that build up tension and then release into grand explorations of instrumental breaks are endearing. The vocals are excellent with hard hitting lyrics that comment on the social fabric, attacking the media, politics, religion and the economy in poetic grandeur. This album has the tendency to grow on the ear and is one of the better crossover artists I have had the pleasure to encounter.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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