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David Bagsby - Ephemeron CD (album) cover


David Bagsby

Eclectic Prog

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4 stars "Ephemeron is a collection of humanly impossible polyrhythmic hierarchies. A minimum of 3 concurrent time signatures are occurring at any given time", says the musician's description of this 2001 disc. That musician is self-made progressive eccentric David Bagsby. Compelling words, and the question of whether the one-man album would live up to that description, even more so.

I hesitate to use the term 'experimental' for this one, as I get the impression much of the experimentation has already occurred during late nights in a dimly-lit cellar, the kind meant for quick escape from an Oklahoma twister. We may never know what of this CD is spontaneous, what was penned, and what was a mysterious blend of both. Perhaps David Bagsby himself may not fully know, such is the magic alchemy of creation. Suffice to say, Ephemeron is fascinating. And though a sort of exercise in metric counterpoint, it is much more than some banal demonstartion. It is musical too.

Frankly, writing about this material is much like trying to undo an intricate math theorem with little hope of finding the solution. Just when your brain has a grip on what the ears are hearing, it changes, subtly or abruptly, and all bets are off-- patience may be required. Oh yes, it may. 'More Nightmares of Science' starts as a seven-note phrase that begins to alter beyond recognition. Like some tonal language, it converses freely on numerous subjects. 'Ephemeron 3' is almost a structural reversal of the first cut and livens up with bold piano, sharp accents of drum programs, deeply-set synthesizers that reach to the core, always maintaining the record's 3-signature rule.

'Ephemeron 4' goes deeper yet, pushing through ink-black subspace highlighted with chirps and signs of life. Darkness getting darker, thicker, and warmer, interrupted by the incredible 'Automatia'. Like a living machine in which you are a prisoner, it takes you; moving ever-faster, layer upon layer of patterned signals, melodies, variations, ripples, articulations, numbers, calculations, redirections, conversions, corrections, over all too soon. 'Hydrophony', the weaker of the cuts, has an unwieldy start and doesn't change much throughout its jerky and slightly gaseous thirteen minutes and considering it is a bonus track, that makes sense.

An outcast Prog demigod, consigned to flames of woe and writing its score while he's there, David Bagsby is Progrock's unsung renegade, and though at times excruciatingly difficult and challenging, Ephemeron is also highly rewarding. If you're ready.

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Posted Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permalink

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