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ORPHEUS NINE

Heavy Prog • United States


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Orpheus Nine biography
ORPHEUS NINE began as a solo project by Jason KRESGE. Envisioning keyboard-driven music he created pieces that served up piano, organ, and synthesizer as the lead instruments. After a period of experimentation, he partnered with drummer Daniel NYDICK in 2005, and the two spent a few years further developing their style. The result was modern progressive rock with infusions of classical, jazz, metal, and electronica.

By 2011, the duo had expanded to include bassist Tony RENDA and guitarist Matt ULLESTAD. This lineup enjoyed a brief run together before scheduling conflicts forced a temporary hiatus. Daniel's departure led to the 2012 arrival of drummer Mark DEGREGORY.

The New Jersey-based quartet then emerged with the debut album 'Transcendental Circus' in 2017. The album's centerpiece is a six-part, nearly-22-minute track. The band has poured its soul into every song, deftly balancing technical virtuosity with emotion and melody.

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ORPHEUS NINE discography


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3.93 | 15 ratings
Transcendental Circus
2017

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ORPHEUS NINE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Transcendental Circus by ORPHEUS NINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.93 | 15 ratings

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Transcendental Circus
Orpheus Nine Heavy Prog

Review by proghaven

3 stars The era with no newbies. The days when pupils successfully jump directly from diapers to a professor's chair, while founding fathers seem to be still in diapers. The vocals better than Gabriel's, the drumming better than Mason's, the guitar playing better than Howe's... but those all were (and still are) easily recognizable. The music reminds sometimes Genesis, sometimes Spock's Beard, or Shingetsu (first part of Fetish), or Glass Hammer (and therefore Yes circa The Yes Album), early Relayer, early No Name... well, the list of references and analogies can be prolonged endlessly. The only question with no answer is where and when does the band's music remind Orpheus Nine? For some tracks (No Illusions, Age Of Rhyme And Reason, Sandcastles) it's not easy to recognize whose music they remind, but surely remind someone else's. Not stolen from anyone but hardly distinctive. What to say about the prog band Orpheus Nine and their debut album? They produce very well crafted and skilled music. They excellently play their instruments and sing. Their arrangements are amazingly complex and diverse. The only thing the band sadly misses is capability to risk - and readiness for risk. They are too flawless. So flawless that they lose originality. Even the two mindblowing epic suites (multi-part self-titled and The Fall Of The House Of Keys) do not change the overall impression. Besides they undoubtedly do have original musical ideas. But for now, it's not quite clear what their message to the world is. Hopefully the band's next album will show.
 Transcendental Circus by ORPHEUS NINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.93 | 15 ratings

BUY
Transcendental Circus
Orpheus Nine Heavy Prog

Review by IStanBull

5 stars I hate writing reviews but this is an underrated band that deserves more attention. A friend told me about their CD saying I would love the keyboards. I've heard enough shredders and figured I didn't really need another one in my collection, so I blew it off. Then a couple weeks later some guy outside the library had a song playing from his phone, thanks to Shazam I found out was Hand of Make-Believe. It was in 7/4 but melodic and catchy, with kind of Rush flavors. There were some nice harmonies and great lead vocals, with a really sweet and tasteful guitar solo fitting perfectly over Mellotron, and then some pretty Rhodes that went all ring mod before screaming Hammond organ. I decided to look up Orpheus Nine and saw many interesting song titles...so I took a chance.

Not the least bit disappointed! This isn't a meaningless shredding album. It isn't a concept album either as far as I can tell, but a lot of the music still ties together and the whole thing's cleverly bookended. At the center of it is the title track, a 6-part suite called Transcendental Circus that's longer than 21 minutes. By far one of the coolest songs I've ever heard in my life. From any band EVER. There's so many musical ideas packed in here that sometimes they go onto the next one before you know what hit you. But it all holds together, and in different parts you hear references to other parts and realize it's all a unified epic. Most of it's instrumental, but when the singing shows up it's amazing. In part 2 (Hallowed Playground) it starts with the lead singer doing really soulful "mmms" and "ohs" and "oohs" that almost made me cry (and then the solo lead that I thought was guitar but might be synth? WOW!) In part 4 (Swimming In Our Four O'clock Tea) there's like Gentle Giant harmonies and rounds, which are beautiful but have a sense of humor too. And the music in all 6 parts is incredible. Part 1 (Barcarolle Of Bedlam) has tons of crazy time signatures but it sounds so cool and different, a lot of Keith Emerson and King Crimson stuff in here with wild guitars and mind blowing keyboards plus an explosive drum finish. Part 3 (Intergalactic Clown Festival) is jazz fusion with Chick Corea keys and some funky bass. Part 5 (Not Within The Memory Of Elephants) really rocks and has a suprising tribal twist in the middle. Finally part 6 (Freak Tent Mausoleum, which also a lyric in Reaper's Carousel) is a weird freaky carnival that includes a classical waltz and a metal section that's like an orgy between Iron Maiden, ELP and Pink Floyd...and then like Tarkus it climaxes with a recap of part 1. So much talent but it's focused and isn't wasted. The whole suite is powerful and awesome. And fun!

You won't go wrong the rest either. Of Zygotes And Grace Notes is a gorgeous classical piano intro. Eightfold Way is very unique and has many twists and turns, there's lots of different synths and I love the bass. (If you get the CD and read the lyrics they put a cryptogram in it too, but I didn't try to figure it out yet.) Fetish is one of my favorites, another soulful vocal and great melodic song, and in the middle there's kind of an Arabic thing with funny bad news headlines over top of it. No Illusions is the least prog sounding, more of a jazzy blues swing but it's still a good song. Age Of Rhyme And Reason flat out rocks - I could see this one getting a live crowd pumped up. Reaper's Carousel comes right after the title track and has a monster bass line all through it, with more nice harmonies at the end. Sandcastles is mostly piano and vocal with a great deal of emotion.

This all leads to my other favorite, the epic finale, The Fall Of The House Of Keys. It starts with a full orchestra playing about a 2-minute overture before a muted Rhodes fades up. From there it builds slowly and keeps building until it just can't contain itself anymore and explodes. This song is a masterpiece and the perfect ending to a 5-star masterpiece of an album.

Maybe some people will think there's too many different styles and sounds and that they should just pick one. But I think that's part of why I love Transcendental Circus. It isn't predictable, it doesn't all sound the same and again the music ties together and seems right as an album. The music breathes and so does the audio - no loudness war BS here. Also the whole CD design and art look great.

Why isn't this on those top 10 lists I'm starting to see??? It should be. And it should be in your collection too. Go get it today! I can't wait to see what Orpheus Nine will do next.

 Transcendental Circus by ORPHEUS NINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.93 | 15 ratings

BUY
Transcendental Circus
Orpheus Nine Heavy Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars A band that names the title of his album "Transcendental Circus" and where you can found some strange and funny titles in some of his songs must have a sense of humor that can only reflect in his music and lyrics. It starts with some bass lines and some upfront keyboards lines from master Jason Kresge. Then the music goes into an AOR/Neo-Prog vein before developing into more complex structures. We can hear many special effects coming from the keyboards. "Fetish" start like an acoustic Hackett style guitar just before bringing some guitar metal riffs with some classical arrangements. "Hand of Make Believe" has some guitar Rush/Tiles influences with some jazzy intrusions and again we are treated with some keyboards magic from Jason. "Age Of Rhyme And Reason" has some furious instrumental parts with a slow break that deliver some inspired Dream Theater parts. But the fun part of the album begins with that 22 minutes of "Transcendental Circus". The special effects of what we can hear in a circus are used and also the special keyboards sound of Geddy Lee in the song "Camera Eye", it can only be intentional... In this song, the band is trying to have the most fun possible by showing their craft and versatility with their instruments. We can hear tons of rhythms changes and Jason taking inspiration from Nathan Mahl, Glass Hammer, Keith Emerson depending on which sections the song is. There are some catchy riffs and some captivating drums fill throughout this epic and a music that goes to different moods from the dark side of metal and the lighter side of Jazz. Part V " Swimming In Our Four O'Clock Tea" brings again that acoustic Hackett guitar influence and some Hamydryad/Gentle Giant multi-part vocals style. The last song "The Fall of The House of Keys" is the only song where you feel that the band has slowed the pace down to take his time to develop the melody which gives more emotion to the music in this 10 minutes song. This is a strong debut from a band that has a lot of potentials, just hope for some more music soon.
 Transcendental Circus by ORPHEUS NINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.93 | 15 ratings

BUY
Transcendental Circus
Orpheus Nine Heavy Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars This is my first casual encounter with a transcendental circus! Obviously all went well so far. Eh ... I'm quite sure about that. Content-wise one will be faced with established figures like elephants, dragons, clowns, ghosts, wizzards and so on. Well balanced. No need to worry therefore. ORPHEUS NINE evolved from a solo vehicle, started by keyboarder/singer Jason Kresge, into a real band. Based on a heavy prog fundament their songs are showing diverse musical influences. And so it all developed into the approach to record an album which will offer a rock opera somehow. Which generally should live from, maybe let's say, entertainment, diversity, twists and turns, joy of playing ...

The album runs all around the epic title track, this visually appointed by the nice prog typical cover art. That song represents the planned core. And, not always with guarantee, you know, in this case the masterly highlight in the same way. Moreover one can say it's Jason's showpiece in particular, while being a Tour de force regarding his keyboard playing. A prominent cinematic respectively opera attitude, equipped with ambient and jazzy impressions, swirly synths, symphonic and classical sequences. Tricky! I would highlight the lovely excerpt Hallowed Playground first and foremost here.

One song may top this, in terms of more accessibility at least. Eightfold Way marks THE strong contender for spreading the word via diverse radio and internet broadcasts. A rather virtuoso finish, The Fall Of The House Of Keys then appears with classical and symphonic roots again. Excellent starter! While listening I'm feeling rather comfortable when occasionally visiting that intergalactic playground with all those festivals, mausoleums, carousels and sandcastles given. Sounds similar to Styx, Saga, Red Bazar in parts, but also further, I mean more eclectic bands in the vein of Tiles, Zip Tang for example. Now have a go at it!

Thanks to rivertree for the artist addition.

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