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Poor Genetic Material - Here Now CD (album) cover


Poor Genetic Material

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Veteran Outfit Hits Stride

Poor Genetic Material ISN'T

Consider the irony of skilled and devoted musicians collectively producing a dozen albums in their 20-plus years of existence- challenging each other and the listener not only with intelligent musicianship, but coupled with thought- provoking lyrics.

Perhaps with a gleam in the eye, they name the band, but...

NOT poor genetic material at all! Rather, to these ears, experienced musicians that demonstrate rather fine genetic material- and we're the better for it, and for them.

Here Now

Really it's all we have. The moment. The choice of how to use it.

For me, that's what Poor Genetic Material (PGM) explores herein.

And done with verve, endless ideas, flawless execution- from surprisingly catchy choruses, solid bass and drum foundations, atmospheric guitars, rich keyboard sounds including piano, synthesizer, mellotron, and organ- that rich full organ sound I so love- to excellent clean vocals done up in harmonies, counterpoints, call and response...

I Learned a Couple New Words

So along with the outstanding music and musicianship, the lyrics prove to be mind-bending and provocative. Concepts that need to be pondered.

And those words? "auspication", "vaticination"- and no, I'm not telling. Do your own damn homework.

So Here's My Thought

Some gems never get discovered. How PGM has remained under the radar for two decades? Can't explain. For me, it's a gift, a big wet kiss from this band to those of us willing to give it a fair hearing.

My Rating

4 Lustrous Stars- "excellent addition to any progressive rock collection".

Report this review (#2447874)
Posted Monday, September 14, 2020 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars POOR GENETIC MATERIAL is like the carpenter with 12 toolboxes, each highly specialized, who cannot remember which toolbox does what, so has to open all of them. Luckily, this seems to delight the listener while apparently not aggravating the carpenter nearly as much as one might expect. Embarras du choix. Put another way, they have about 5 lead instruments give or take, because, after all, Phillip Griffiths' voice could swallow up about 5 average prog vocalists, if he didn't have flawlessly good taste that is. Lyrically erudite as well, he either insists on or is aggressively encouraged to bring in his dad Martin of BEGGARS OPERA fame at least once an album who manages to simultaneously raise the bar and make Phillip sound better! Oh dear I suppose that makes 6 instruments doesn't it? No matter. Open up the boxes!

Thematically, "Here Now" seems like the antonym and antidote for predecessor "Absence". The here and now is all we have, and, particularly in the centerpiece "The Garden" (sung by papa who name checks my favourite Beggars Opera track), the present has the capacity to be anything but a gift to the more sensitive among us. But who says we can't create our own, better reality, even if just for a vacation, or an evening for that matter? Musically, "Here Now" kicks off simply, with a string of shorter and progressively better tracks that converge while remaining well demarcated. As before, the group plies its trades comfortably at the intersection of simple and complex melodies, verse chorus structures and variegated suites, spacey ambience and funk, chill and edgy, solos and ensemble. My personal favourite is the touching "Note from my Younger Self", the complete package encapsulating all of the above.

In typical PGM fashion, all will be revealed in time, in my case almost 6 months, not that I think I have it, or anything figured out for that matter. But I can tell you that the arrangements, in particularly how Pia Darmstaedter's flute comingles with each other lead as called for, continue to mature, which might not be a requirement for this fan, but, inasmuch as it makes the band more likely to stick around for another decade or so, I'm all for it. Oh yeah sorry, I am just happy they are here now.

Report this review (#2509830)
Posted Sunday, February 28, 2021 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
3 stars German prog band Poor Genetic Material are back with their twelfth album, their first in four years, but there again the band have slowed down somewhat in recent times and no longer produce an album a year like they did for their first eight releases. It is the same recording unit which has been in place for years, while singer Phil Griffiths has again invited his father Martin (from the legendary Beggars Opera) to guest on a number as well. This is all mellow stuff, with multiple layers being set down for Phil to lay his vocals. He is a great singer, and also sets himself up with plenty of backing vocals which take the music into an almost 10CC direction. Due to the layering, it means that when an instrument manages to cut through it has an immediate and impressive impact, whether that is a finger popping bass note or a delicate flute. There are Mellotrons at play, distant lead guitars, and a pop/prog mentality which both makes this album feel rather lightweight and highly enjoyable at the same time.

This is not music where the listener needs to settle in for multiple plays, but rather is one where they can find themselves smiling on the very first time of playing the opening title track, with the smile getting that little wider the more they listen. I do wish there were more in the way of dynamics and depth in the material, and there are times when some of the early Eighties' influences are a little too overt, and Pallas in their early days are an obvious reference. I would have liked to have had a little more crunch and a little less polish, as I am sure these songs would not come across quite like this in a live environment. All that to one side, this is an incredibly enjoyable album, smack bang in the middle of the Crossover sub-genre, with the odd neo prog influences here and there. Maybe not one for the traditionalists, but a nice listen all the same.

Report this review (#2541528)
Posted Saturday, May 8, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Here Now" energetic title, almost danceable, rhythmic, dynamic, flute halfway through, melodic metal prog with keyboards and tortured guitar, title calibrated to go on a quick journey, a synthetic condensation between GENESIS, KING CRIMSON and a little of choruses from QUEEN, it looks pretty good; the emotion is quickly assimilated in the air. "Serendipity" is a more relaxed, rhythmic track but also more about Phil's voice and the Frippian guitar. Finale with soaring percussions, if possible, a little BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST even, always a little synthetic in the vein of a TEARS FOR FEARS, flute at the end to disturb you in your musical approach. "The Waiting Game" arrives with a dark, melancholy intro, tortured sounds, spleen then it sets off on a more frank rhythm, with the voice put forward to give into the meditative lullaby. Clear percussions, soft voice suddenly, then exchange between bass, keyboard and guitar, all joined by Pia's angelic flute; the dark and Frippian side of the guitar notes mix with a warm synth at the end until a melancholy solo of the most beautiful effect, too short, I put the replay on. "Note From My Younger Self" and a dark intro on piano and flute, majestic; raised by the organ for a rhythmic, choppy tune, filled with instruments; musical breaks come and go highlighted by a dynamic bass la Greg LAKE; an intimate and airy climate emerges in the middle, symphonic and grandiloquent, note that the voice increasingly resembles that of Michael from SAGA with a long, powerful final crescendo.

"The Garden" arrives with its centerpiece of more than 13 minutes, divided into 5 parts: it's beautiful from the start, it's unlike any other group, we're good with PGM there! The presence of Martin (the father) gives a divine resonance by bringing the voice of BEGGAR'S OPERA back to life, we are immersed in uncompromising prog, without boredom and without guessing as to the sequel, bam a bit of SPARKS or STYX from a suddenly, when I was talking about QUEEN earlier I confirm; it goes in all directions with a sudden lyrical surge, screeching engine noises, PINK FLOYD-like sounds in return, voice that returns to SAGA but who is actually singing? Break with voice, bass and well-anchored flute, the synth adds a dark side with cascading piano notes; the final part is a little easier with a long instrumental sequence which is a little fishy given what was on offer until dessert! "This Place" for the last piece of the album with the same sequence, voice, flute and keyboard then central break with this flute used in the most beautiful way in my opinion after an introduction to the church organ, flute except to be better highlighted. A plus to the voice again and the endless guitar solo and final piano arpeggio to make you melt.

Report this review (#2973769)
Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2023 | Review Permalink

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