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PSEUDO/SENTAI

Crossover Prog • United States


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Pseudo/Sentai biography
PSEUDO SENTAI was born out of an idea in 2007 by Greg Murphy and Scott Baker. (And named after none other than the Japanese show, Super Sentai). Deciding to wait to release music under their official name until a drummer was discovered, they slowly built up and arsenal of songs and released Scrapes of an Enigmatic Nature and Y.A.B.A.T under the moniker PATIENT'S WORTH. The first was a collection of stories, and the second a thematic concept album about discovering your significance by understanding your insignificance. They added Kyle Boggs to their lineup in late 2010. After this changeup, the switched their name to PSEUDO SENTAI. In 2011, they released the first chapter of 4 from Nature's Imagination is Greater than Man's. After adding bass player Anthony Rocazella in 2012, 'The Sentai' are ready to expand their universe.

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PSEUDO/SENTAI discography


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PSEUDO/SENTAI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Scrapes of an Enigmatic Nature
2009
4.00 | 2 ratings
Y.A.B.A.T.
2010
3.89 | 12 ratings
There's Always a Fucking Problem
2013
3.95 | 15 ratings
Bansheeface
2015

PSEUDO/SENTAI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

2.05 | 2 ratings
Halloween Treats
2010
2.53 | 5 ratings
Nature's Imagination (Chapter One)
2011
3.14 | 12 ratings
Nature's Imagination (Chapter 2)
2012
2.71 | 5 ratings
Blue Solo Mission: Making a Hole in the Center of the First Outside Planet
2012
2.09 | 4 ratings
MonstHER (Attack of the 50 Foot Actress)
2013

PSEUDO/SENTAI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by VOTOMS

4 stars Review nš 217

Pseudo/Sentai - Bansheeface

Another concept album by the superheroes Blue and Red, or Scott and Greg. Original as ever, the band planned something quite special from the very beggining. It feels like playing a retro videogame but slowly it gets progressive and turns into a weird pop, multi-layered rock featuring a hard psychological abuse of rhythmic boundaries. I feel these guys are listening too much to Cardiacs and stuff, really, the chord progression is far unusual and it could take some time to fully memorize a track if you're not paying the right attention. Hard to describe their music. Ecletic technical art pop with a tip of avant-metal background. Or maybe Crossover Prog, that's it. They got electronics, acoustic passages, and the main vocals reminds me of 30 Seconds to Mars, unfortunattely or not. Taliking about Mars, their music feels close to The Mars Volta sometimes... Anyway, this album is a trauma for me, because Greg sent me this material before the release and I got into a car accident while listening to his music. I think this is the perfect music for a spaceship drunk dwarf party at a mushroom shaped disco room. I wanted write a longer review but I'm feeling like PA's Allan Poe and currently I can only write short texts because of my unbalanced mental state.

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Bansheeface" is the 4th full-length studio album by US progressive/art rock act Pseudo/Sentai. "Bansheeface" was recorded in the period August 2013 to February 2014. Pseudo/Sentai was formed in 2007 by Greg Murphy and Scott Baker. The duo however waited until they had enough material and a drummer in the band, before they started releasing material under the Pseudo/Sentai monicker, and worked under the Patientīs Worth monicker until 2010. On "Bansheeface" the duo handles guitars, orchestration, programming, soundscapes, production, and vocals, and are helped out by Jeff Eber "The Herdsman" (Drums), Jon Ehlers "Arthropunch" (Bass), and Sawyer Schneider "Oak Sawblade" (Guitars). Colin Marston (Behold the Arctopus, Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, Krallice) acts as co- producer/engineer.

The music on the 13 track, 44:05 minutes long album is a bit hard to describe correctly, as it features many different stylistic elements. Itīs undoubtedly progressive and I hear quite a few nods toward an act like King Crimson (80s/90s releases), when things are most avant garde/progressive sounding, but itīs usually more an underlying current in the music, which is generally very melodic and at times quite catchy, pulling more in an art pop/rock direction (Iīm thinking a bit of Roxy Music and artists in that vein). Even when the band are most melodic and pop oriented, the music is still quite complex, with multible layers of sound, intriguing rhythmic playing, and a very sophisticated use of choirs, harmonies, and backing vocals to support the main vocal melodies.

So thereīs no doubt that the material composition wise is of a very high quality, featuring many intriguing and innovative ideas, but also featuring the melodic sensibility which makes "Bansheeface" a relatively accessible listen even if youīre not a hardcore progressive rock listener. A successful combination which is further enhanced by the high level musicianship which is on display all the way through the album. These are obviously not just a couple of guys who met for a casual jam and recorded the session. In other words weīre dealing with skilled professionals who meticulously have gone through each of the compositions on this album to add the right details at exactly the right moments. Some releases end up a clinical listen as a consequence of such a process, but thatīs not the case with "Bansheeface", which features an organic sounding production which pulls in the other direction and a hard rocking delivery which also provides the music with a more loose rockīnīroll feeling despite the attention to sophisticated details.

"Bansheeface" is a concept album telling a sci-fi/fantasy type tale of the goddess like creature the Bansheeface, the Likhos (odd looking creatures, protectors of nature), the selkies (half man/half seal), and the humans. The Bansheeface is plotting something evil, but is murdered by a Likho named Lution (seemingly as part of her evil plot), and war breaks out between the selkies and the humans, who blame each other for the death of the Bansheeface. In "March of the Selkies" the humans lose the war and are basically wiped out. Thatīs a simple overview of the story, which features more twists and turns and details if you investigate a bit further.

Upon conclusion Pseudo/Sentai has created quite an interesting listen with "Bansheeface". Itīs an original sounding album, which is always an important factor, but itīs the combination of melodic sensibility and experimental/progressive ideas, which makes it a real treat. The wacky sci-fi/fantasy lyrics are pretty great too if youīre into that sort of universe, but even if youīre not the album can also be enjoyed for the music and the melodies alone. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A project that has no boundaries!

This is Pseudo/Sentai, a project that started by the will of Greg Murphy and Scott Baker, who have been creating music with no classification, with no labels, and despite I am reviewing their music for progressive rock sites, I wouldn't dare to say they are a prog rock project, because you'll find eclectic elements that might describe their music as Pseudo/Sentai's music, no other band sounds like them. In 2014 they created a new album named "Bansheeface", a 44-minute length baby divided in 13 tracks.

"Quantum Cardboard" starts with a helicopter's sound and then the explosive electronic sounds and drums begin, it is like having a funny journey to NES games, because the sounds will remind you of some video games. "Sleeping Closer to the Ground" brings vocals for the first time, and with them, an inherent power. Here the electronic is not the main element, here rock prevails, not in a classic way, but with a nice blend of heavy experimental rock and avant garde. The composition is very well crafted, and it is easy to sing and get on well with the music, in spite of that heavy sound. "Terraformed Transcendence" has a kind of AOR sound, but again, the music is not easy to describe or classify. The best you can do, is simply listening to it and let it do the rest, I am sure you will enjoy it, because though it has some aggressive moments, overall it brings a friendly sound that anyone would enjoy.

"Immaculation" is a wonderful track due to its awkward blend of styles. First you will listen to some electronic beats, and then acoustic guitar accompanied by hip hop like vocals. The music flows and they bring us different changes, but all of them interesting. In some moments I even remember Adrian Belew's music due to the vocals, strings, and that heavy full of energy sound. "Bansheeface" is a magnificent track, here is easy to be delighted by the talent and craziness of these guys. I love how their sound makes me feel alive, furious, energetic, and intense, they bring me back to life, and believe me, it is not that easy to find music or bands who help you that way. "Trap of Assassination" is a very nice and experimental short piece that has a strange blend of acoustic strings and electronics, with a kind of western sound, and some video game noises at the end.

"Black Matter of Machinations" drastically contrasts with its predecessor, here the mood is softer, with nice vocals (lead and back) that sing over nice atmospheric keyboards, cool strings and constant drums. I think is a catchy tune, which does not mean it is less complex or interesting. After a couple of minutes the intensity increases, the music releases a monster that screams and all the hidden energy is spread. Wonderful track! "Sleeping Closer" is a short, wild and tense track with female vocals and electronic background. "The Holy Metamorphacity" is one of the longer tracks of the album, and one of the best as well. The music created is first class prog/avant/electronic/heavy/rock that your ears will greatly receive. I love the vocals, all together make a great sound, and I love that inherent energy that provides satisfaction to one's wishes. The drums are amazing, and what they create with keyboards is fantastic.

"A Taste of Endangered" is a short instrumental track whose first seconds take me somehow to the desert, while the second part takes me to heaven, celestial voices hehe. "Classic Tactics of Geoncide" has enchanted me, mainly due to its mellotron-like background which never ceases, but also due to the vocals, tense bass lines and in- moments-dramatic-sound. It is impossible not to enjoy it and also not to move our head. It is like a hypnotic tune. "March of the Selkies" has a lot of energy on it, is a heavy piece of rage. It is normal to remember some other acts, and though I said Pseudo/Sentai has its own sound (because they do have it), bands such as Sleepityme Gorilla Museum, Adrian Belew, The Mars Volta or Rain Delay came to my head while listening to the album. The album finishes with "Mound of Seed, Seed of Earth", a shorter piece that brightly closes a wonderful record.

I know this band might not be for everyone's tastes, however, I would suggest you to give them a chance, they have their music in Bandcamp, so listen to them and you'll understand better what I said on my review.

Enjoy it!

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Bansheeface' - Pseudo/Sentai (79/100)

I think there is something to be said for the kind of 'everything but the kitchen sink' progressive rock that seems to have fallen out of favour over the few years, provided it's in the hands of musicians who know how to wield it. Moreover, I'm most often impressed when a band dares to imbue pop sensibilities with a nigh-overwhelming complexity or attention to detail. Of the bands who come to mind at moment's notice, Queen is probably the best example who, in spite of having brilliant hooks worthy of being hummed along to enthusiastically by any soccer mom in between morning Zolofts and driving the kids to practice, earned some degree of infamy for the meticulous design of their arrangements and general snail's pace with which they produced their work. Given that Bansheeface has been a work-in-progress for the past five years, it's safe to say that Pseudo/Sentai deserve a share of some of this notoriety. And yes, while the music is undeniably experimental (occasionally taunting avant-prog territory), their music's always carried a strong melodic sensibility, no matter how chaotic it first appears. Bansheeface is, without a doubt, the most ambitious, layered and eclectic release yet from the young provocateurs, but so too has their strong pop essence benefited from the time and effort Pseudo/Sentai have invested in their craft this time around.

To a surprising degree Bansheeface still bears the proudly experimental imperfections that went a ways to defining Pseudo as early as the first demos, but whereon past work there was a clear gap between where they were and where they wanted to be, it feels as if Bansheeface is the first time the band's vision has been realized in a significant way. This is not to say that Pseudo/Sentai's EPs or debut It's Always A Fucking Problem weren't engaging, but the jarring aspects of their music often felt less like the vital side-effects of experimentation, and more along the lines of structural faults that the band had yet to rectify. Glorious, self-aware imperfection is what defined so much of P/S's music up to this point, and I do mean that in a good way. If my memory serves, Jon Poole of Cardiacs (whom Pseudo/Sentai's guitarist Greg Murphy admires as much as I do!) was quoted as saying something along the lines that perfection was repellent to him. Imperfection, by contrast (especially in experimental music) is often surprising and stimulating. There were technical issues I had with the earlier stuff, true, but Pseudo/Sentai's plain-weird fusion of modern prog with everything under the sun kept me on my toes.

That same gloriously imperfect experimentation is here on Bansheeface, but this time it's been coated with a level of polish and intention I'd never have thought to hear from them. If you need a basic idea of what Pseudo/Sentai sound like, think of what Coheed & Cambria (circa The Second Stage Turbine) might sound like if Claudio Sanchez had spent a year listening to Gentle Giant and wanted to make progressive rock of a similarly complex and eclectic nature. It wouldn't be out of line to associate P/S among the likes of so-called 'alt-proggers' like The Mars Volta and The Dear Hunter (and Coheed, of course) but that would only be scratching the surface of their style. The sheer eclecticism Pseudo/Sentai exhibit is naturally hard to pin down; they're not beyond echoes of 8- bit chiptune, flashes of metal and even noise (as heard in the would-be interlude "Trap of Assassination"). I think the thing that defines Bansheeface the most is the grappling sense of urgency and busyness; it takes little time to get started, and once it's gained momentum, it doesn't let up. Frantic guitar lines and multi- layered production (engineered by Colin Marston of Behold the Arctopus fame, no less!) give the impression of a whirlwind for the first handful of listens, though it's not long before that pleasant sense of familiarity sets in, thanks in large part to the album's lively hooks.

While it's a far cry from the quasi-grindcore microtracks that comprised There's Always A Fucking Problem, Pseudo/Sentai still relies on shorter tracks to express their point. I'm aware that these should be seen less as songs than as chunks of a seamless album-length composition, but the fact remain that Pseudo/Sentai take little time to make their point. The density of the band's music is one of their strongest selling points, though I found myself wondering while first listening to the album whether Bansheeface may have benefited from exploring a few of its better ideas at a more relaxed pace. Unsurprisingly, the most standoutish tracks are the more fully developed songs; "Black Matter of Machinations" is a fantastic example of what P/S can do when they lean on the conventional art of songwriting. Taking a driven route to atmosphere, Scott Baker's vocals (sounding close to some of the earlier mentioned alt- prog references) are finally given a chance to breathe amid the stifling arrangements- close comparisons could be drawn to their fellow East Coast proggers in The Tea Club.

The impression of fully fleshed songwriting tends to be an exception on Bansheeface, although this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Like many excellent experimental acts, Pseudo/Sentai have thought it best to hinge their music on great ideas and moments over necessarily great structures. The album's Cardiacs-ish intro "Quantum Cardboard" is not only the best example of this but possibly my favourite bit on Bansheeface overall- the moment the drums light up over the quirky electronics is one of the most satisfying musical moments I've come across in recent months. Alas, other parts give me a strong opposite reaction. The pseudo-rapping at the beginning of "Immaculation" is close to [%*!#]ing unbearable (think Weird Al doing a Nintendo-themed Hip Hop album). It's thankfully an unmatched low point on the album- Bansheeface otherwise remains a respectable consistency with the success of its experiments. Even when I'm not altogether loving an idea of theirs (the noise-prone "Traps of Assassination" really feels out of place in the album's flow, for instance) Pseudo/Sentai have put enough meat on the bones of this album to keep me interested throughout.

For a band that's trying to do so many different things with an hour of music, I'm not surprised that there are parts of Bansheeface I don't care for. What matters to me is that I get the impression that the zany experiments Pseudo/Sentai have mustered were done so with passion and vision. Bansheeface achieves the fulfillment of vision I struggled to find on Pseudo/Sentai's past output. In doing so, I think it's safe to say the album marks a new stage in evolution and maturity for the band.

By the way, did I mention it's a concept album? Some wacky [&*!#] about alien political intrigue, man-eating Selkies and the eponymous Bansheeface, whom I might have been able to write a bit about had I understood a splinter of what the [%*!#]ing story's about. Ripe material for a graphic novel to go along with the special collector's edition, I suppose?

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by thwok

4 stars I'm another collaborator who was asked, directly by the band, to review this album. It is a privilege to be sure! Like the other reviewers, I would enjoy listening to Bansheeface even if I had not been specifically asked. I listened to a few earlier songs by the band, as a frame of reference, before starting to gather my ideas for this review. However, I can't talk at length about Pseudo/Sentai's other music. The general critical consensus seems to be that Bansheeface is as good, if not better, than Pseudo/Sentai's earlier albums.

Other reviewers have stated that they found it difficult to compare Pseudo/Sentai to other bands. My immediate reaction when I started to listen is that it sounded like System of a Down. That is definitely a compliment in my opinion. Specifically, the way the songs are written and structured and the harmonies are what brought System of a Down to mind. Of course, Pseudo/Sentai are not just a copy of another band; they are not as strident or lyrically obscure as our favorite Serbian metal band. Pseudo/Sentai are often labeled as sounding a lot like The Mars Volta. I don't know enough about The Mars Volta, who've always sounded too manic for my tastes, to make a good comparison.

On Bansheeface, Pseudo/Sentai mix industrial and electronic influences in with the other elements in their sound. My favorite songs on the album are probably the longer ones, which allow the musical ideas to develop. "The Holy Metamorphacity" and the title track are two of my favorites. There are even some good old-fashioned guitar solos on the album! Pseudo/Sentai is a group of undoubtedly talented people who have the skill to make the ambitious music they're aiming at. Bansheeface gets a very well-deserved 4 stars.

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I had the great pleasure of meeting Greg on a recent visit to New York. I've spoken with him online for a couple of years and one thing that has always come across is that Greg's great passion in life is music, specifically creating it. But it is one thing to read something online, and another to speak to a person face to face and see the passion barely contained as they speak about what it is they dream to do. How the only thing they can talk about is how they are making their dreams come true, the problems they have anticipated and the means they have taken to circumvent these problems.

Throughout the course of my life, I have run across a number of other friends who have been involved in the making of music, but it is rare that the music they create interests me enough that I would listen to it even if they hadn't been involved in the creation of said music. Pseudo/Sentai is one such band, and I have been cheering them on since the release of 'Natures Imagination', which captivated me immediately with its sideways melodies, aggressive tones and layered vocals.

Bansheeface is definitely my favorite thing the band has done so far. They are still on the upwards crest, where each new album finds them refining their songcraft, improving their sound and tightening the arrangements, and I think with this album they have reached the level of quality where discerning music fans will begin spreading the word.

Pseudo/Sentai have never struck me as being a typical band, and in general I struggle to find a reference point for then - if there is another band they sound like, I have yet to stumble across them. They follow the spirit of the experimental/prog indie rock scene, without really following in the steps of any other band. One thing I am always wary of with experimental music are the bands that take the experiment more seriously than the music, recording anything that sounds new without relating it back to how it can be used to create new music. Pseudo/Sentai don't fall into this trap, taking back their interest in layered vocals, off-beat rhythms, dense, tricky-hidden-melody approach to guitars, and digital age sound effects and applying them back to what have been better and better songs.

Historically, P/S albums have consisted mostly of a lot of short songs (less than 2 minutes) with only a handful of tracks surpassing the 3 minute mark. Their last album had 22 tracks, only four of which exceeded three minutes. By contrast, 8 of the 13 tracks on this album surpass that landmark. With the extra breathing room the band has allowed themselves, they are better able to drive home the point of their songs, leaving more memorable impressions.

The title track (at the time of writing the only track from this album generally available) is an excellent example of this, leading with a catchy guitar riff, then quickly building up before introducing the main vocal line. I think this may be one of my favorite vocal performances by Scott thus far. I am not sure if he does the background vocals as well as the foreground, but the back and forth between the two provides great contrast, and the foreground vocal line have some great melodies with quick and tricky melodies. This is all of course built on top of the dense layers of guitar, base, and drums. I am not certain if the denseness is created by the sheer volume of layers presented, or a stylistic choice in the production, but it really helps give the song a big sound.

The short songs are still present, giving us little nuggets of either sonic tapestries or lighter melodies, working excellent as bridges between the more involved longer tracks.

While I doubt we will be hearing this kind of music on the radio any time soon, I can see this album catching on and Pseudo/Sentai growing in esteem in the internet music scene. For someone interested in truly fresh progressive rock music, this album must not be missed.

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by Kazza3

3 stars Pseudo/Sentai's latest (and strongest) effort, Bansheeface, continues the band's move towards increasingly captivating and consistent music, and from a homegrown sound to a more professional one. The album is unreleased at the time of writing, but has been made available by the band to reviewers, upon request. The music is modern and schizophrenic at times, and from the point of view of a Mars Volta fan (whose influence on the band is often noted) it seems to marry the heavy guitars/organ/drums dominance of early Volta with smaller amounts of the synths and electronics of late Volta (and late Omar Rodriguez-Lopez solo albums). That's not to say the album sounds overtly like The Mars Volta- the influence is clearly there and the basis behind much of the sound may be similar- but the actual musical content is very different, being usually stranger, more eclectic and wayward, and less epic/anthemic.

The album is divided between major songs and a number of small interludes. The interludes, mostly based on very noisy synths/programmed beats, don't really seem to add a great deal to the album, the most interesting one being the intro track 'Quantum Cardboard'- which, however, doesn't make a great album opener. The synths integrated into the tracks proper are a much more interesting use. There are also ambient/concrete music interludes attached to the end of various tracks (in the style of such interludes on early Volta albums) which feel similarly stuck-on. The real music lies in the full-length songs, from the driving 'Terraformed Transcendence' to the heavy and rhythmic title track and the dark ostinato-based 'Classic Tactics of Xeno'. These are all bombastic, pitting the weight of the rhythm section (drummer Jeff Eber from Dysrhythmia assists a great deal here) against the multiple clever little guitar licks and keyboard flourishes. The frenetic twists and turns of the songs are sometimes too much, with too little to cling onto, leaving tracks feeling inconsistent and uninteresting- on the other hand there are also plenty of great hooks everywhere which really make the album. 'The Holy Metamorphacity' is another top track, and the weird Zeppelinesque ballad 'Black Matter of Machinations', by nature of the style, is one of the most coherent. The closing tracks begin to feel a little overly familiar (even if featuring a great guitar solo). The weakest point is the vocals, which, while mostly very good (and often excellent, especially when sung high and gritty as on 'Terraformed Transcendence' and others), are occasionally weak, unconvincing, or out of tune, a problem not helped by not really being mixed to the foreground, where the music usually demands they be. Additionally the vocals at the beginning of the weakest track 'Immaculation', almost rapped in a comedic style, are an unwelcome addition.

Overall, however, this is a very exciting album, doing a good job of balancing the drive against the flourishes, and of balancing the weirdness against the hooks.

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by LearsFool

5 stars I was another reviewer given the privilege of reviewing "Bansheeface" well ahead of time by Greg, and his own description of what is within does not do this album justice. After a neat opener with "Quantum Cardboard", we end up going through a good take on a Mars Volta-esque sound for a couple tracks, with calmer run-ups. But next thing we know, "Immaculation" ends up fusing in electronic sounds and effects, and as the record goes on we fall through a progified mix of noise, trip hop, more electronica, and a bit of out-and-out metal, as well as the Volta- esque riffs. The album ends on a note of acoustic guitar and noise sounding like something off of the masterful "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". The singing goes from the usual metallic vocals on to something that at times feels like Gentle Giant or Haken. This is a savoury mix of genres I couldn't have ever expected, with each track done wonderfully. The best I could do to reproduce something sounding like this would be a mixtape that includes Volta, Haken, Portishead, Wilco, Nimh, and Riverside. Crossover indeed. Excellent, and will certainly prove a highlight of 2015 in prog.

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 15 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I was contacted by Greg, one of the frontmen for the band Pseudo/Sentai to do a pre-release review for this album. Since I haven't actually done a review by request before, I was happy at the prospect of getting to know some of the forum members and musicians that wander around this site looking for more of the music they love and inspiring each other. So, without knowing a lot about the band other than being able to listen to the amazing sounds on this album, I venture forth to do a review simply of this album not being able to compare it to other releases by the band, but with the hope that I can learn more about them, because, after listening to this album a few times, I must admit that I am impressed and want to hear more.

The band is categorized under Crossover Prog. I'm not exactly sure where that designation came from. Because of their similarity in form and style to The Mars Volta, I would be inclined to put them under Heavy Prog with an edge towards avant garde styles. This leaning comes from a very impressive use of chromatic scales and harmonies throughout their work on this album. The chromatic use is to help better harmonize the weaving of several melodies that play over and under each other throughout the tracks. This is done both in the layers of vocals and instrumentals that are worked into each track. But even when the tracks are not dense with multi-layered themes, the chromatic modes are still used.

If you are wondering just what I'm talking about, then you can again compare the style to The Mars Volta or maybe even Coheed and Cambria. The music from these bands can be quite dense sounding because of the use of many themes throughout their albums. They also use chromatic scales, more so on the part of The Mars Volta. That will hopefully give you a better idea of the complex sound that is going on in this album. Now, I have to say that one major distinction in the sound is that Pseudo/Sentai doesn't turn this multi-layering into a impenetrable wall of sound like the Mars Volta did on a few of their albums and this makes P/S's sound a lot more accessible. This is a great thing because even a lot of MV fans couldn't take the inaccessibility of the sound. With P/S, what you end up with is a sound that is somewhere between MV and Rush which is a very good place to be.

Now lets talk about the vocals. The vocals are great and strong. There is usually a really untraditional harmony going on a lot of the time which at first can be hard to get use to, but it doesn't take long to figure out that it all fits and is not really irritating, so you will come to accept the sound. The minor complaint I do have about the vocals is that they are at times unsure. Sometimes this works as a vulnerability, but not always. When using a chromatic mode, it is important to hit the odd harmonics spot on so that there is no confusion as to what kind of sound you are trying to convey. Without that surety, an odd harmonic can sound like it was unintentional to a casual listener. So if anything, I would work on making the vocals more certain. Also, at times it seems that quality in the singing suffers a little bit because the vocalist is trying too hard to make the lyrics understood. This preoccupation can be dangerous. It is better to maintain the quality of the vocals even if the lyric translation doesn't always come out so clear. Listen to most rock bands and you'll find that most of them don't care if you can understand the lyrics or not. Besides, most people will look up the lyrics themselves if they are not printed in the program notes somewhere. Anyway, like I said, these are not huge issues, just personal preferences.

So, now that I got the minor issues off my chest, I want to reiterate the fact that this is an awesome album and, if this album is indicative of their other works, I don't understand why this band is not at the forefront of the prog spotlight. Instead of saying "This band sounds like The Mars Volta", we should be comparing other bands to P/S. There are some stellar tracks here. Namely, the title track, "Sleeping Closer to the Ground", "Black Matter of Machinations", "Seeping Closer", and "March of the Selkies" just to name a few that stand out as unique. "Black Matter..." is more of a quieter track with some excellent vocals, "Seeping Closer" is a short intermediary track that has some ingenious and unique sounds (I love how the vocals have been manipulated here) and "March of the Selkies" has this traditional guitar solo that is bookended by the signature sound throughout the album. Does this traditional solo and rhythm sound out of place? Not at all. I wish that more bands would explore this style and I would welcome seeing traditional rhythms and solos interspersed more often in unique "neo-classical" techniques, as long as it is done tastefully and not leaving an inconsistent sound. This track is a good example of how it should sound. This also will help with accessibility as long as it is not overdone and it will still not endanger the quality of the music.

Another high point in this album is that the shorter tracks work in so nicely with the longer tracks. They don't seem like filler at all and for the most part, are just as essential and interesting as the longer tracks and that is something you don't find very often.

Anyway, for what it's worth, these are my feelings after hearing the album a few times. I believe this is a legitimate progressive band that needs to be recognized. Hopefully, the things I have talked about will pique your curiosity enough that you will search this album out when it is released. I believe this would be an excellent addition to any prog collection and, with some smoothing out of a few rough edges that I have mentioned, has the potential of being an essential recording. However, hearing the version that I have heard, I would rate this as a strong 4 stars. Very smart musicianship and great production with plenty of variety and dynamics.

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 There's Always a Fucking Problem by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.89 | 12 ratings

BUY
There's Always a Fucking Problem
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by frippism
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars The fact that this album was recreated from bits and pieces of tracks P/S had after their laptops were stolen from them is? perhaps even demoralizing to the reader at first. It was pretty shocking to me that P/S manage to serve not only a good album considering the circumstances, but a great album which surprises with its consistency. Greg Murphy and Scott Baker's remarkable songwriting skills along with their noteworthy mastery of "amateurish" programs such as Garageband only help to show what ridiculous amounts of potential this band has.

I've known P/S for a couple of years now. I discovered them on the forums following Greg's advertisements of the band. I became an instant fan and me and Greg and I have voiced my fanboyism to Greg straightaway, which has led to a most beautiful virtual relationship which is worthy of its own romantic novel. Since that first contact P/S has managed to release another excellent EP and a few tracks but this album manages to bring a very satisfying punch quantity and quality wise. 22 mostly short tracks that jump schizophrenically from pretty semi-acoustic moments to full blown 8-bit mathy proggy pop rock. Yeah I really don't know what that even means. It's a wholly special sound which is lifted to incredible heights with Greg's composition skills. The tracks are usually terrifyingly complex and ridiculously catchy. There are tunes here that float all over the place- on the walls, under the carpet, and straight in your face, sticking to the side of your brain for weeks on end and accompanying even my stupidest everyday tasks. It is P/S's radically different sound and melodic touch which make me excited to hear anything new they have to offer.

What we have here is an impressive achievement. The sonic spectrum on this album is endlessly interesting to listen to. There is no drummer here but they manage to re-create a drummer fantastically using basic programming. The synths and weird effects are floating around here many times sounding like a bizarre horrifying 8-bit video game, the acoustic guitars have an almost indie rock flavor to them, while the electric guitars and Scott's dramatic vocals bring a whiff of metal. You can hear it from the pretty pianos in the beginning to the absolute joy of the seven "AP tracks" which capture an adventure in a video- game world and are so absolutely delightful and just plain fun- it's really just an entertaining album with a lot of depth to it. If anything, please listen to AP3- the melody has been stuck in my head for weeks and the layers of 8-bit synths is just freaking cool. Also "Pyro Cyclone Dancing the Weathervane Waltz" is a jaw dropper- the breath-taking crescendo is probably the awesomest moment on the album.

I have heard few bands who have managed to differentiate themselves from today's alternative underground dirty crazy old music scene of these days and still have such a grip on whatever pushes the emotions button in my brain. This album by any means shouldn't be good considering the really bummer consequences that lead to the way it was made, but it just is.

Give it a damn shot, it's on their bandcamp, eh?

P.S.: Look out, this album does probably contain the pun of the century. You'll know it when you hear it.

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Thanks to marty mcfly for the artist addition.

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