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THINKING PLAGUE

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Thinking Plague biography
Colorado-based THINKING PLAGUE explores the frontiers where rock, folk, jazz and modern symphonic music meet. THINKING PLAGUE has established itself as the logical successor to HENRY COW and ART BEARS, bringing the Rock in Opposition style into the Nineties. As with all of the better RIO bands, THINKING PLAGUE's music is both melodic and angular, containing equal measures of rock and jazz. Definitely on the cutting edge of the current progressive rock scene.

"In This Life" is highly recommended. This 70 minute disc captures a unique style that is about as reminiscent of ICONOCLASTA as that band is of Lamb-era GENESIS. A really great release but not for those who don't like way our RIO. "In Extremis" should become a classic in the Rock in Opposition sub-genre. This is still plenty RIO styled, but it's not as difficult to listen to as "In This Life". As a matter of fact, some of the pieces remind me a bit of GENTLE GIANT at their most raucous ("The Power and the Glory").

2000 brought "Early Plague Years", a two-on-one CD rerelease that allowed many people to hear the first two albums for the first time. This album is hard to beat. You'd have to be primordial ooze to not think this is brilliant. A new PLAGUE album is due out in 2003.

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Buy THINKING PLAGUE Music


History of MadnessHistory of Madness
Cuneiform 2003
Audio CD$17.20
$12.76 (used)
Decline And FallDecline And Fall
CUNEIFORM 2012
Audio CD$10.28
$10.16 (used)
In ExtremisIn Extremis
Alliance 1998
Audio CD$330.78
$49.95 (used)
Early Plague YearsEarly Plague Years
Cuneiform 2000
Audio CD$17.30
$17.20 (used)
In This LifeIn This Life
Recommended Records 1995
Audio CD$79.99
$79.99 (used)
Upon Both Your HousesUpon Both Your Houses
NEARFest Records 2006
Audio CD$5.33
Decline And Fall by Thinking Plague (2012) Audio CDDecline And Fall by Thinking Plague (2012) Audio CD
CUNEIFORM
Audio CD$39.64
History of Madness by Thinking Plague (2003) Audio CDHistory of Madness by Thinking Plague (2003) Audio CD
Cuneiform
Audio CD$53.64
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THINKING PLAGUE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THINKING PLAGUE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.28 | 23 ratings
... A Thinking Plague
1984
3.29 | 25 ratings
Moonsongs
1987
3.97 | 44 ratings
In This Life
1989
4.30 | 116 ratings
In Extremis
1998
4.11 | 60 ratings
A History of Madness
2003
3.53 | 41 ratings
Decline and Fall
2012

THINKING PLAGUE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 12 ratings
Upon Both Your Houses
2004

THINKING PLAGUE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THINKING PLAGUE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 19 ratings
Early Plague Years
2000

THINKING PLAGUE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

THINKING PLAGUE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In This Life by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.97 | 44 ratings

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In This Life
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Thinking Plague's In This Life finds the band following the precedent set by the Henry Cow/Art Bears/News From Babel dynasty. Blessed with the intriguing vocals of Susanne Lewis, who would part ways from the group after this release, I am particularly reminded of the Art Bears side of the equation, since Thinking Plague also seem to be seeking a balance between structured songwriting and avant-garde soundscapes this time around. It has a somewhat different vibe from In Extremis, most likely because of the personnel changes between the two releases, but it's a strong and credible release from an earlier era of the Plague.

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 In Extremis by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.30 | 116 ratings

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In Extremis
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

5 stars 1. "Dead Silence" (4:03) The first two and a half minutes of this song sound as if they've done a modernized cover of KATE BUSH's "Sat in Your Lap;" the final ninety seconds sound more like KING CRIMSON Discipline-era. (8/10)

2. "Behold the Man" (4:26) is rife with strings of scales runs performed by instrument after instrument while Deborah Perry sings melodically (and sometimes not so melodically) over and within. Awesomely conceived! Again the TONY LEVIN/King Crimson influences are obvious--as are those of PHILLIP GLASS. I really love listening to this song--and it does not grate against me as some of TP's more dissonant songs can. (10/10)

3. "This Weird Wind" (8:03) comes across as some kind of anthemic YES-monster for the first ninety seconds. Then a strange JOHN CALE-like lull and pounce section begins (awesome drums sound!) The keyboard work beginning at 2:20 is awesome--as is the acoustic guitar work that follows. A JON ANDERSON-like male voice presents in that same third minute. The ensuing two-minutes of music continues to build and morph like a condensed, abrasive STEVE HOWE/JON ANDERSON composition--even down to the heavily treated voices and psychedelic section in the sixth minute. 5:45 brings us back to the more straightforward YES style and sounds. Great final minute! Really an outstanding exercise on Yesorcism! YES would/should be proud! (10/10)

4. "Les études d'organism" begins as if one had awakened suddenly on a ocean-going vessel during a heavy storm. Then the ensuing wobbly walk around below-decks, trying to keep balanced, while trying to pursue some answers: Is this just a dream or really a dream within a dream? At 2:25 the zoo animals have burst into the ship's hallways! 2:54 you find a lounge in which people are out of it. Back into the hallways, running around the perimeter of the ship--Carnival Lines, of course! 4:30 brings us to some higher functioning, for a moment, before the circus engulfs you again. 5:17 begins the organized entertainment: a bike-rider standing on his seat, doing waterless-water jokes from his hat while riding in a circle. The clowns are doing their best to attract you attention, as are the show girls. Horses riding around the circle with fast-stepping acrobats doing their jumps and flips to and from animal. At 7:50 arrives the elephant, lumbering, plodding, a bit unsteady on the sea-rolling ship, a very good natured, patient elephant, performing by rote all the while looking out into the audience for its saviour. Tensions mount as the elephant stands on its hind legs: immense above the crowd. At 10:25 is seems as if all of a sudden time begins to stand still; you become aware of someone running in from the stormy outside screaming "I'm here! Sophie, I'm here!" The disciplined flow of the circus collapses, the elephant turns and bolts out the door with the young man--sheering the doors from their hinges as it does--revealing the calm, sunny skies outside--your view from your portal window as you awaken from a long night's sleep. (9/10)

5. "Maelstrom" (3:35) begins quite malevolently, dark and heavy, until at 0:45 the vocal harmonizes with some positive chords--obviously there is hope. Return to a quieter, more controlled form of trepidation. The final minute is complete with the all-out struggles and inevitable resignation of the end. Interesting song. (9/10)

6. "The Aesthete" (4:39) or "the me song," sounds like a JANE SIBERRY masterpiece, such a tongue-in-cheek lyric. The steady, strong drums move us forward while the guitars, bass, accordian, and horns try to move us every which way but forward. But when the drums disappear, what then? We are left to float, left to our own devices, left alone. Me, alone. Not really such a scary prospect, if only our heart keeps beating. (9/10)

7. "Kingdom Come" (13:45) YES and KING CRIMSON are what come to mind when listening to this extended piece. A kind of "Gates of the Delirius Red Nightmare," if you will. (9/10)

An collection of uniquely conceived and unusually rendered songs--not one's typical pop or smooth jazz melodies. Avant garde. Out of this world! But stunningly engaging and starkly beautiful! An album I go back to over and over because of the new and unusual--and often excitingly disturbing and unnerving--emotions and imagery evoked herein. This is not abrasive or as are much of the experimental/post, technical or doom metal music I encounter. This is unsettling in a way that is, I believe, to provoke a growth response. If you really want to see music/rock/progressive rock 'progress' then this album is essential for you.

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 Decline and Fall by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.53 | 41 ratings

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Decline and Fall
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars I normally pride myself on knowing quite a bit about music, but when I come across a band that has been going since 1978 and recording since 1984 yet are new to me I hang my head in shame. Although to be honest the form of music these guys provide is not likely to feature much in the mainstream press. This is experimental RIO free form that pushes the boundaries of what many would consider music at all, yet at the same time is strangely compelling. Singer Elaine Di Falco sings in a strange monotone that combines with the otherworldy music that is taking place around her to really take the listener to a dischordant future. This is music that has so much space you could drive a truck through it, yet at the same time is incredibly layered and complex. It is modern classical music being taken to an extreme: the scores for this must be incredible.

It is emotional, hard to listen to, complicated and doesn't belong in any sensible music collection. But being fair, who on earth wants to be sensible? Most people will listen to a few seconds of this and turn away in horror to the latest pop creation, but if you want your music to be challenging and with substance then this may just be for you. www.cuneiformrecords.com

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 Decline and Fall by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.53 | 41 ratings

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Decline and Fall
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by SteveHS

3 stars This music is so difficult that any hint of sloppiness would put every rhythm and note in doubt, so it's great to hear such masterful performances. (And if they're not performances, but sequenced synths, they're masterfully programmed, so kudos either way.) Dave Willey (bass), Mark Harris (woodwinds), and Mike Johnson (guitars) are the foundation of the band, effortlessly navigating the very difficult rhythms laid down by Kimara Sajn on drums and keyboards. Elaine di Falco manages to reproduce both the accuracy and the unwavering pitch of ex-vocalist Deborah Perry.

However, I'm not sure whether to praise Johnson for dedication to a unified style, or chastise him for raiding his musical scraps cupboard too frequently. Anyone who has listened to previous Thinking Plague albums will recognize jagged sawtoothed sequences, interwoven and juxtaposed in a style not so much contrapuntal as merely simultaneous. if one is familiar with previous albums one is constantly reminded of previous work - turn of phrase, rhythm, instrumentation, etc. One might almost characterize the first part of "A Virtuous Man" as a cover of the middle section of "Lux Lucet" (from A History of Madness), they're so similar in sound.

The lyrics are environmentally oriented and unstintingly pessimistic. This is an album that one should listen to only if one is not already in a state of grieving for the dying world, because that's how you'll end up, having had what little hope you might have possessed mercilessly eroded away. Well, not entirely eroded. By the end of the album one is given some hope (in "Climbing the Mountain") that when humans are gone the forests will finally embrace the oceans again, but that seems a Pyrrhic victory. On the other hand, since a "Thinking Plague" is exactly what humans have become, and the album title is "Decline and Fall", surely this should be no surprise. What it does, it does well.

The bits of this album that will stick in one's brain after listening are those with either a strong bass or strong rhythm (such as the opening piece, "Malthusian Dances"). Without either of those one is left with music reminiscent of the sort of stuff students write to prove to their composition profs that they support the emancipation of dissonance.

Perhaps after twenty or so listenings I'll appreciate these pieces more, but I'm not getting that instant rush of dopamine that I got from, say, hearing "The Maelstrom" (from In Extremis) for the first time, or working out the rhythms in the first part of "Dead Silence". "Decline and Fall" is competent, consistent, but disappointingly unremarkable for Thinking Plague.

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 In Extremis by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.30 | 116 ratings

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In Extremis
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Re-emerging after years of hiatus, Thinking Plague burst forth on In Extremis with their own brand of avant-prog. Overall the impression I have is of the work of the likes of late-period Henry Cow and early Samla Mammas Manna mashed up together with a somewhat greater emphasis on lush synthesiser textures than either band exhibited, and with occasional spoken word snippets slipped in reminiscent of some of Frank Zappa's work (think Lather or We're Only In It For the Money). Not afraid to get melodic and accessible on occasion when the music demands it - unlike some other avant bands who insist on weirdness for the sake of weirdness at all times - Thinking Plague seem to be an interesting outfit and In Extremis feels like a good place to start exploring their work.

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 In This Life by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.97 | 44 ratings

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In This Life
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by gazagod

5 stars This is a very engaging album, that, to my mind, is a bit underrated...

There is a rather dry production, which is usual for Thinking Plague... The vocal performance is adequate to exceptional... The vocals are in the mix as another instrument.... Compared to the later Thinking Plague albums this one is not as 'out there'/modern classical, nor is it as 'noisy' as the first two records...

This album achieves a nice compromise and as such it definitely figures as a transitional record for the band... In Extremis seems both much more compositionally dense and inaccessible/left field(though it is far preferred judging by the reviews on this site)-from whence springs the oft-repeated judgment that this record is 'indie-rock'-ish... I don't think that's a fair estimation (if it's meant in the sense that this is 'dumbed-down', because it is not)...

Some very catchy and atmospheric tracks-often simultaneously... highly recommended avant prog album

the tracks 'Fountain of all Tears' and 'Possessed' create a nice continuum on the second half of the record-these tracks are the highlights for me and they lead into the last two, strangely-titled, tracks 'htrsw' and 'htrqw' which are rather ambient and jammy

I believe this is available as a digital download... I also recently heard Chris Cutler has some copies at ReR

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 Decline and Fall by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.53 | 41 ratings

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Decline and Fall
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I haven't seen an album hyped as much as this one has been for quite a while. I consider myself a big fan of this group and after reading the universal praise I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Well i'm happy with it and it's a solid four star record in my opinion, but out of their six studio albums this would be near the bottom. Maybe it's just me but it seems wordy and samey. I did listen to some of their previous records before I reviewed this just to make sure I wasn't losing it, but that only confirmed that I like them better. My favourite aspect of this recording is the in your face bass. A new singer is on board in Elaine Di Falco who continues that THINKING PLAGUE tradition of mono-toned female singing.

"Malthusian Dances" sounds really good with the bass and drums providing a solid rhythm while the vocals sing over top. Sax and keys join in. It becomes intricate and complex when the vocals stop. The vocals are back after 4 minutes. They will come and go. It sounds like mellotron late. "I Cannot Fly" has more huge bass lines along with vocals and more. A collage of intricate sounds come and go. Some vocal melodies after 5 minutes. "Sleeper Cell Anthem" again features chunky bass and vocals as the sax comes and goes. "A Virtuous Man" is laid back and melancholic with reserved vocals. It sounds like mellotron when it picks up some. A calm after 4 1/2 minutes. Bass clarinet before 6 minutes. Another calm before 9 minutes with mellotron. It kicks back in one more time. It's haunting to end it.

"The Gyre" features keys, sax and more as a heavy rhythm joins in. Fast paced vocals arrive after 1 1/2 minutes but they're brief. The sax is prominant late. "Climbing The Mountain" is more of the same really. Some atmosphere and mellotron before 2 minutes then the vocals return. A calm before 4 minutes with vocals. It then picks up with prominant guitar and sax. Another calm as the contrasts continue. Mellotron and chunky bass 6 minutes in as it picks up. Guitar follows.

Another excellent release by this band but one that doesn't live up to the hype, at least not in my world.

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 Decline and Fall by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.53 | 41 ratings

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Decline and Fall
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by yosimoshe

3 stars The last album from thinking plague is quiet a disappointment for me. It has all the great elements of their earlier albums, most notably In Extermis, but it's just not it. There are tracks where they sound as though they are trying to sound as themselves (like in Malthusian Dances), and others when they sound as taking heavy inspiration from other bands, more than they used to be (as in the middle of A Virtuous Man), and the lyrics are still not so great although there is an improvement, but nevertheless, this is still an enjoyable album if you like Thinking plague.

Malthusian Dances opens with a nice guitar riff, and changes rapidly in the middle, making this track still interesting.

I Cannot Fly marks the first highlight of the album, with a very good composition and great playing by Dave Willey.

Sleeper Cell Anthem continues the line of the former track, both in level as well as in the style with the addition of the great guitar work. In the middle of the track, a great bridge is done to one of the most beautiful melodies made in the last three albums by thinking plague.

A Virtuous Man is quiet a disappointment for me, it's a nice track, but it's just not Thinking plague, it's like they are another band.

The last two tracks are really good, and finish the album in a strong way.

Overall, this is a good album, but I have to downgrade it for the originality and for the sureness that they can do a lot more.

3.5 out of 5.

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 In Extremis by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.30 | 116 ratings

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In Extremis
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by yosimoshe

5 stars Thinking plague's In Extermis is one of the most decisive albums in the Prog-Rock genre since the end of the 70s. The album is made of seven tracks, which are actually in some strange way a little melodic. Although the lyrics aren't great, it's not hard to understand that the important part in the album is the music, and the music is really good, made of a mixture between rock, jazz, modern classical music and avant- garde. It's hard to describe it but it's something like Magma meets Yes, when you can make similarities, most of the time they sound different from anything someone has heard of.

There are 4 things that make this album so unique and a must-listen to. The first one is the compositions, which are rich with layers and thought; each role of each instrument is bold, yet mixing with the music. The second one is the mixing, which is done perfectly. The third one is the playing by the musicians, which is played great. The last one is the singing, which adds a lot to the album.

Overall, this is maybe the best album to introduce someone to RIO, the album isn't too hard, but still shows what so great about the RIO.

5 out of 5

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 Moonsongs by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.29 | 25 ratings

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Moonsongs
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. Man this is one incredible release and the sound quality couldn't be better thanks to Bob Drake's remastering. We are introduced to singer Susanne Lewis on this album. I really came close to giving this a 5 star rating but I feel that although it's better than the debut it's not quite as impressive as the follow-up ("In This Life") which I did give that 5 star rating to. Bottom line is that if you haven't checked out any of THINKING PLAGUE's first three albums you really need to because you won't be disappointed, only surprised at how amazing this band was right from day one.

"Warheads" really blew me away with the opening punchy sounds of bass and drums that sound so good. This one has lots of tempo shifts though,in fact you might say it has multiple personalities.This is my favourite track on here. "Etude For Combo" features some kind of percussion or vibes along with drums then the guitar joins in.Great tune. "Collarless Fog That One Day Soon" has some atmosphere as we get this spacey and somewhat haunting soundscape throughout. "Inside Out" is dark and haunting as the vocals join in.

"Moonsongs" is the almost 15 1/2 minute closer. They closed the debut album off with a track of almost the same length. It opens with percussion, drums and banging sounds as the vocals join in. Guitar before 4 minutes then we get some cool vocal arrangements. A calm 5 1/2 minutes in with strange vocal expressions. I like them. Sax around 9 minutes then we get this relentless beat before 11 minutes. A haunting calm with whispered vocals follows.It kicks back in after 12 1/2 minutes with vocals, then we get a guitar solo a minute later before a calm ends it.

Please track down the "Early Plague years" which has their first two studio albums remastered on one disc. A must for Rio / Avant fans.

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