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MATTHEW PARMENTER

Neo-Prog • United States


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Matthew Parmenter biography
Known for his narrative songwriting and costumed performances as front man for the band DISCIPLINE, Matthew PARMENTER unveils his highly anticipated solo release, "Astray". The 68-minute CD features all new tracks including the 21-minute song suite "Modern Times".

Produced and engineered by PARMENTER, "Astray" is decidedly psychedelic in atmosphere. Songs unfold into dreamlike improvisations that surround the listener. Bassist Mathew Kennedy appears throughout the CD, the sole guest musician on "Astray". PARMENTER covers vocals and other audibles, including piano, guitar, drums, saxophone, violin, organ, synthesizers, marimba, Theremin, and Mellotron sounds.

Strung Out Records originally released DISCIPLINE's studio CDs, "Push & Profit" and "Unfolded Like Staircase". Following the success of "Unfolded.", Stereo Periferic released and distributed both DISCIPLINE CDs in Europe.
Worldwide sales, interviews, reviews, and hundreds of Internet postings on Usenet discussion groups such as rec.music.progressive helped to establish PARMENTER and DISCIPLINE as mainstays of the underground progressive rock movement.

In addition to his work with DISCIPLINE, PARMENTER has performed with other bands on stage and in the studio. PARMENTER provided descant violin for the band Tiles on their CDs "Presents of Mind" and "Window Dressing". At Chapel Hill's ProgDay 2000, PARMENTER sat in on Tiles' set, and later performed a solo set the same night. Detroit's alternative rock group Radium recently featured PARMENTER's violin in performance. Last year, PARMENTER gave a 45-minute sneak preview of his solo material in support of DARK AETHER PROJECT's CD release concert at Orion Studios, Baltimore's progressive rock showcase.

As DISCIPLINE's singer-keyboardist, PARMENTER toured Norway with the band and performed numerous shows throughout the U.S., sharing bills with new and established artists such as OZRIC TENTACLES, Steve HOWE of YES, ANEKDOTEN, and ECHOLYN.

: : : COURTESY OF STRUNG OUT RECORDS : : :

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astrayastray
Strung Out Records 2004
Audio CD$13.75
$9.98 (used)
Horror ExpressHorror Express
Strung Out Records 2008
Audio CD$13.46
$20.33 (used)

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MATTHEW PARMENTER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.97 | 51 ratings
Astray
2004
3.71 | 64 ratings
Horror Express
2008

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MATTHEW PARMENTER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Horror Express by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.71 | 64 ratings

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Horror Express
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Matthew Parmenter continues to impress with his multi-instrumentalist chops on Horror Express. Musically speaking, it's a lot like his last album in that it's essentially Parmenter advancing the Discipline sound by himself; that means a lot of influence from Van der Graaf Generator and Peter Hammill, smoothed out with a range of other symphonic and neo-prog influences and combined with the theatricality of Gabriel-era Genesis. Parmenter impresses with the range of instruments he masters over the course of the album, whilst the subject matter of the songs remains as dark and troubling as we've come to expect from the spooky mime of prog.

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 Astray by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.97 | 51 ratings

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Astray
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Matthew Parmenter's first solo album comes across as a means of continuing Discipline by other means - the compositional approach is very similar to that of Discipline (the shorter songs being reminiscent of Push and Profit, whilst the closing epic Modern Times is more like the material on Unfolded Like Staircase), Discipline's Matthew Kennedy guests on bass guitar, and once again the music occupies a dark hinterland between neo-prog and symphonic prog. Frankly, that's 100% fine by me. The brilliant compositions and songs on this album only underline how important Parmenter's skills as a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and frontman were to Discipline, and continue that band's spirit and experiments admirably.

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 Horror Express by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.71 | 64 ratings

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Horror Express
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

3 stars Matthew Parmenter of DISCIPLINE fame continues his theatrical musical expression in the same vein of PETER HAMMILL though, in this listener's opinion, Matthew does it better. Unfortunately, Peter did it first, so the comparisons will never end for the uber-talented Parmenter.

The instrumental formulae for Matthew's music is often so simple, and the song structures seem also rather predictable, but it's the performance--the power of the instruments' performances, the power of the incidentals, and, ultimately, the unquestioned power and stylings of the vocalist that make (or, at least, should make) Matthew Parmenter a superstar in the prog world.

Favorite songs: "In the Dark" (9:22) (9/10) and the beautiful, Japanese-tinged instrumental, "Kaiju" (3:52) (9/10).

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 Astray by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.97 | 51 ratings

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Astray
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Have you ever felt your life has been going off-course? Do you feel that despite your efforts and wishes you have come short of achieving your goals, out of tune with your life? The seven songs in this album by Matthew Parmenter present each a story of such a case; seven tales of being and feeling Astray.

After being completely captivated by Unfolded Like Staircase, the album by Parmenter's band, Discipline, I decided to get his solo output. I thought it would somewhat simpler, less dense and layered than Discipline, but what I hear here, while not as complex and intricate as Discipline's material, is nonetheless, as rewarding, rich sounding and well done. Matthew Parmenter sings and plays all the instruments (and there are a lot of those accounting for the rich layering) aside from the bass, played by Mathew Kennedy.

In fact, Astray has quickly risen to be a personal favourite of mine. Each of the seven songs has a simple basic theme to it, which is then expanded into a wide musical landscape depicting a story and emotions. The way Matthew sings the lyrics merges perfectly with the melody. The pathos in his voice in convincing as if the story told is his own. The melodies start out in a simple yet charming way, often with the use of the piano, and are then built upon with additional layers of instrumentation, though not excessively, and building up to emotional climaxes.

There is a verse-chorus-verse basis but it is played around with, to not sound straightforward, so as to not be dull. The result is an album that manages to sound personal, beautiful and simple and yet be elaborate and varied. The opening song, Now, is the best example of a relatively simple tune that is developed further and built upon with more layers; it ends up in an lush sounding instrumental segment where the main theme is initially played on piano and then joined by the drums, bass, guitar and mellotron.

This delicate balance is well maintained throughout the album, even in the closing 21 minutes song, Modern Times, which may be the most Discipline-like song here in scope and to a lesser extent, in writing style. A superb song, it runs the gamut from the simple piano lead section to full-blown progressive rock epic with rich instrumentation and magical instrumental segments.

The most simplistic structured song is Just Another Vision, but it as well, along with its lyrics, is a beautiful song, which doesn't change its pace and in which the chorus and verse have the same melody. The organ here adds a richness that lifts the whole song up a notch and along with the vocals have a hypnotic effect. The same mood is continued in Some Fear Growing Old, which again, doesn't show much diversity in terms of composition, but more so in terms of instrumentation, where, for instance, the violin makes an appearance. The level of intimacy is deepened with the beautiful and highly emotional song, Between Me and the End, where Matthew accompanies himself on a piano (except for two moments where more vocals and a saxophone join in), singing about his loneliness, a sensation of being lost, astray and of not much to live for, feeling near the end.

To continue this, there are, not surprisingly, similarities in sound to Discipline, particularly when it comes to the powerful sound of the keyboards which are a dominant part of Unfolded Like Staircase and the same is true here (organ, mellotron, synthesizers, piano),. Matthew uses these to create a melancholic and gripping atmosphere, with long brushes to accompany his singing; he then uses them to draw a more precise and detailed picture as they come to the front and lead the composition. The additional instruments play a significant role as well, contributing distinct parts and ornamentations; such an example is the marimba in Distracted.

On a different note, I take my hat off to Matthew for the making this album sounding so well and tight, especially condering he played all instruments except the bass, and managed the engineering and mixing roles.

I hope I got my enthusiasm of and love for this album through this review. It is a beautiful and striking intimate album, and for me serves as much a way to connect to personal pain as it is to serve as a cleansing experience.

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 Astray by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.97 | 51 ratings

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Astray
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I guess the bottom line is that this album isn't catching on with me. And when I say that I mean musically because when it comes to Matthew's lyrics there are few who are as talented. I actually enjoy just reading his words more than listening to the music which is probably a first for me. He would make his musical hero Peter Hammill proud with the way he writes a song that's for sure. And that is the biggest compliment I could possibly give him. Matthew does it all here except play bass which he employed his former DISCIPLINE band mate Mathew Kennedy for. Rather dark music here without a lot of dynamics. Mostly vocals and piano, and we get mellotron on 4 of the 7 tracks.

"Now" opens with vocals and piano. It gets fuller then settles. These contrasts continue. Sax 2 1/2 minutes in. Mellotron 5 1/2 minutes in and really the last 4 1/2 minutes of this song are the best on the album for me. Organ after 7 1/2 minutes. Great lyrics on this one. "Distracted" is led by drums and vocals and is mid-paced. Mellotron 4 1/2 minutes in. It settles late. "Dirty Mind" is fairly mellow with vocals, piano and drums standing out. It's fuller 1 1/2 minutes in but that changes. Again excellent lyrics here. "Another Vision" features laid back guitar and vocals. Organ 4 1/2 minutes in when the vocals stop. The lyrics are so well done. ,

"Some Fear Growing Old" is really the first catchy tune although it's fairly slow paced. Strummed guitar and the violin comes and goes. "Between Me And The End" is a little too depressing really. My least favourite track. Sombre with piano and reserved vocals for the most part. "Modern Times" is the over 21 minute closer. This sounds better right away as we get a full sound with mellotron. It settles a minute in with almost spoken vocals and piano. It picks up some and we get some guitar before 5 1/2 minutes. It turns aggressive. Mellotron before 7 minutes. It settles after 8 minutes then picks up again after 11 minutes. These contrasts continue.

I wish Matthew's vocals were a little stronger. Good release that impresses lyrically but not so much musically.

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 Horror Express by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.71 | 64 ratings

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Horror Express
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars The first time I heard this I though mr. Parmenter had unearthed a long lost gem from Peter Hammill's golden era. Usually such a blind devotion and tribute to one artist makes me turn away quite quickly but this one has won me over in no time.

Main reason is the very consistent quality and artistic vision on this album. Parmenter proves himself not only a songmaster but also a master in execution and instrumentation. The basis is laid by his dramatic and sensitive piano playing. No great gestures but strongly contained emotion that bursts out in gulps but only at the exact moment when they're needed.

Parmenter does really well in mimicking Hammils vocals style. His voice is a bit more gentle, a bit smoother and less exuberant as Hammill's. But not lacking in expressivity and tunefulness.

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 Horror Express by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.71 | 64 ratings

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Horror Express
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars For his second solo album, Horror Express, Mathew Parmenter has in his own words produced "a collection of musical nightmares masquerading as a horror film". He plays all the instruments with the exception of some of the drumming. Being the vocalist/keyboard player with USA Proggers Discipline it's no surprise that Horror Express is a heavily keyboard driven album with much use being made of acoustic piano.

The music fits the album title perfectly, the notes and chord structures having a melancholy and gloomy feel throughout the album with some suitably dramatic vocal work, Parmenter coming across sounding like Peter Hamill at times, most notably on album opener In The Dark, 9 minutes of suitably atmospheric and gothic piano driven music.

The music in general is not overly complex with simple drum work, in part no doubt down to the fact that Parmenter does some of the drumming himself but it's totally in keeping with the overall vibe of the album, much of it at a slow tempo conjuring up a funeral march feel.

It's not all acoustic piano based though as on the synth driven and slightly more upbeat Escape Into The Future though it turns out to be one of the least satisfying pieces on the album. Kaiju, an instrumental makes good use of haunting Violin and Cello to add to the feel of doom and gloom. Not an album to cheer you up then but the music does have a haunting beauty much of the time, none more so than on Golden Child which has a bit of a Radiohead vibe about it in their more melancholy moments.

Monsters From The ID turns out to a favourite of mine, starting out as more slow tempo piano based gothic horror before picking up for an organ driven mid song section.

Polly New has a fuller sound with a lot more going on musically than on most tracks with a greater array of instrumentation. It's also one of the more dynamic pieces and the 10 minute length is made use of for some interesting changes. Van Der Graaf Generator particularly spring to mind here in places.

Another particularly haunting melody is All Done (Horror Express), starting off with piano and vocals only, it builds dramatically with some fittingly over the top screeching vocals towards the end.

Overall Horror Express is a very good album though the prevailing mood starts to wear a bit thin towards the end but then it is in keeping with the concept of the album so in that sense works very well. Fans of Discipline will no doubt want to check it out and also recommended to fans of Van Der Graaf Generator. 3 ― stars.

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 Horror Express by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.71 | 64 ratings

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Horror Express
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I was taken back a little when I heard Matthew's vocals on the first track, I thought he had Peter Hammill guesting on it. It's not just Hammill's voice he's channeling here though it's the lyrics. Simply put they are brilliant, especially on the song Polly New, but throughout this record. I really like the album cover as well. Matthew thanks a lot of people individually and alphabetically in the liner notes. So he thanks each member of ANEKDOTEN as well as TILES'' Jeff Whittle for letting him use his bass guitars. He thanks the father and son team of PRESENT and many others. Yes this is dark as all Parmenter related projects (DISCIPLINE) tend to be. Piano and vocals dominate.

"In The Dark" is the over 9 minute opener where you would think Hammill is singing. The piano is dark and the sound is reserved although it does get fuller. "O Cesare" features piano and theatrical vocals.Violin after a minute and some mellotron too. Drums and vocal melodies create a great sound 3 minutes in. "Escape Into The Future" could be a PHIDEAUX song. Oh he does thank Xavier in the liner notes as well. The focus is on the vocals on this mid paced catchy track. "Kaiju" is dark and almost spacey. Violin before 2 1/2 minutes. "Snug Bottom Flute And Starveling" is fairly uptempo at the beginning and the ending. In between it's calm with piano. "Golden Child" features reserved vocals,bass, piano and light drums. Guitar after 2 minutes. Great sound.

"Monsters From The Id" opens with the sound of a monster. Reserved vocals and piano follow. It's dark. Tempo picks up after 4 1/2 minutes with organ. Vocals are back 6 minutes in as it settles right down. The organ is back. "Polly New" has such thoughtful lyrics. I just like to read them. Mellotron and full sound hit us right off the hop. A piano / drum interlude comes in after 3 1/2 minutes. Vocals are back a minute later.The ending is dark and intense. "All Done (Horror Express)" opens with piano and reserved vocals. Drums after 4 minutes and a full sound follows. It settles again. "The Cutting Room" has some theremin in it, yes those spacey "Lost In Space" sounds. This one has a really VDGG feel to it other then the threremin.

Tough not to give this 4 stars but i'm just not really into it yet so i'm going to continue to listen.

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 Horror Express by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.71 | 64 ratings

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Horror Express
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Usulprog

4 stars Four years passed between Astray and Horror Express release. In this new album, Matthew Parmenter execute, compose and interpret all the instruments, except the drums.

In the dark, the opening track, immediately remember us the Peter Hammillīs voice and his penetrating style. Accompanied of the piano, he delight us with an extensive sung section, which gradually becomes more dramatic. This is promoted thanks to the drums and a secundary electric guitar. In O Cesare, definitively we discover that Parmenter voice is one of the albumīs principal instruments, whereas bass, piano, drums and keyboards create a dark, dramatic and clean basis of no complex, but very emotional textures, which get closer the album to art rock. "Escape into the Future" is a song with a pop structure, where the synthetizers create a cold and artificial ambient. Kaiju starts with a sentimental violin, and a drums rythm helps to create a very melancholic ambient. The cello, a shy guitar and some electronic arrangements complete the gestalt. A beatiful composition, one of my favourites. "Snug Bottom Flute and Starveling" is another instrumental cut more strong, extrovert, with some private piano moments, which mutate to very interesting rythm changes. Drums and guitar merge in a very smart manner. Next, "Golden Child" brings back the Parmenterīs voice in a tetric ambient of progressive power. This track gave to me memorables and heartbreaking moments, a very nice piece.

Then, "Monsters from the Id" begins in a decadent way, awakening our more bizarre archetypes. Parmenter and his piano are the stars, and sometimes a shy flute pops in the dark. The guitar accelerate the rythm, and with some electronic arrangements and keyboards build a very impressive interlude. Finally, unexpectedly, Parmenter and his piano rend the fog with a warm ray of light. Polly New, a 10 minutes track, make us levitate with a strange style on gray, black and white tonalities. Here we found a more complex musical structure (but no too much), with drums and piano creating memorables in crescendos, with the accustomed private and dramatic moments of Parmenter and his piano. In this track I like the guitar very much. "All Done (Horror Express)" is a prelude to end ("I finished the job."). The Parmenterīs voice is the basis and the absolut protagonist, with the piano, and to them gradually some instruments become attached. Finally, The Cutting Room starts with an absolute perversity, and in its briefs 6 minutes give to us memorable and versatile moments. One of the albumīs highlights, a nightmare turned to music, an exquisit, dramatic and shocking composition, with phantasmagoric keyboards. A big end of this original and very recommended album. With some similarities with Anglagard, Gnidrolog and VDGG, this is one of the great releases of this year, not due it complexity. I like it because its aesthetics and concept.

4.25 Stars!

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 Horror Express by PARMENTER, MATTHEW album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.71 | 64 ratings

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Horror Express
Matthew Parmenter Neo-Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Horror Express" is yet another manifestation of Matthew Parmenter's art-rock genius, and mostly, a particular highlight in the world of prog rock for this year 2008. The album's title is not misleading at all, and neither is the album cover, with that disturbing picture of a giant alien emerging in the darkness of night among skyscrapers massively on fire: this repertoire seems to have been created, arranged and performed to explore humankind's deepest fears as they materialize in the real world. There is definitely some relatedness with the darkest side of Discipline (especially the brilliant sophomore album "Unfolded Like Staircase"), but it is also clear that Parmenter didn't intend to see himself as some substitute of the band in itself. The album is heavily dominated by piano, also featuring plenty of vintage synth sounds (Moog, Theremin) and mellotron: these are the most recurrent sonic sources in the instrumentation, but never getting tiresome. The 9+ minute long opener 'In the Dark' sets the mood quite right, an indication of the overall motivation stated by the repertoire as a whole: uneasy darkness, sense of mystery, abundance of textures, clever use of monotony. The first lines are somehow humorous with those handclaps and playful backing vocals, but the song is genuinely creepy. There is a lyrical moment that states a mixture of early solo Hammill and late 60s Procol Harum - a great opener, indeed. 'O Cesare' sounds like a leftover from an Art Bears album retraced with a set of Landberk-inspired arrangements, and engineered by the producer of Hammill's "The Silent Corner". Parmenter really shines in his softly demented vocal deliveries (including flowing falsettos), as well as the sinister violin phrases. It is as long as 3 ū minutes, but more than enough to leave a mark in the listener's mind. 'Escape Into the Future' bears a lighter mood, bringing a more explicitly articulated scheme that is somehow related to the avant side of Brit-pop: the use of unusual rhythmic patterns in some passages and the eerie use of synths keep this track from inconveniently getting too poppy. 'Kaiju' brings back the darkness, even enhancing the density inherent to terror: there is a sad mood to it, like a moment of nostalgic evocation in a creepy environment. Univers Zero-style violin and cello dominate the instrumental framework, which also includes some guitar ornaments that partially emulate the Frippertronics. 'Snug Bottom Flute and Starveling' is another instrumental excursion, this time more extroverted while not devoid of tension: it is a progressive feast as a sort of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic-meets- Univers Zero. 'Golden Child' (almost totally instrumental) sounds like a "Vandergraffized" Radiohead. 'Monsters from the Id' pursues the continuity of stylized horror initiated with 'Kaiju', bringing familiar airs of 72-74 Hammill, unmistakable really. The 10 minute long 'Polly New' is the longest track in the album. This track keeps loyal to the general environment of terror and mystery, but definitely the allusions to psychedelic-era Beatles in the rhythm pace and piano chords helps to light up the mood a bit. Still, the possibility for disturbance is never denied, and so the mellotron emulations of string ensemble and choir get in through some specific passages. When things speed up, the variations state a momentary increase of the dramatic potential before settling in for a slower pacer: from there onwards, a sense of introspective desolation prevails in a very Hammillesque fashion. 'All Done (Horror Express)' almost sounds like a continuation of the preceding track, even reinforcing the aura of solitude. The lyrics are menacing (referring to a job done) but the mood seems more connected to the protagonist's inner self than to the aforesaid job. The mood makes an explosive shift to a sustained crescendo whose climax is transformed into an intensified retake of the sung portion. 'The Cutting Room' closes down the album with a sense of splendorous bleakness: closer to Univers Zero and Present than to VdGG or Peter Hammill, this is actually the liveliest piece in the album, as if it claimed a grand finale for this excursion of progressive terror. The slightly space-infected Anglagard-type finale brings a mechaneic feel to the eerie creepiness that goes on flowing like a recurring nightmare. Matthew Parmenter's genius has found a definitive expression in this amazing album.

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