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Symphonic Prog • United States

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Discipline biography
DISCIPLINE is one of those rare cases of obscurity combined with reverence. Much like Änglagård was the Swedish phenomenon, DISCIPLINE was the U.S. counterpart. They are bands that released two highly praised studio albums in the '90s, and then disappeared. The ensuing passage of time allowed them to become legendary. The most obvious difference from Änglagård being that the DISCIPLINE albums are still readily available.

Even though they did not have an official release until 1993, the band had been around since 1987. Guitarist John Preston Bouda, drummer Paul Dzendzel, bass player Mathew Kennedy, and singer/multi-instumentalist Matthew Parmenter began in a place that is not usually considered fertile ground for prog. When one thinks of Detroit (Michigan) music, it usually conjures images of Motown, Ted Nugent, or Iggy Pop. I lived in the area in 1987, and I can tell you that I was not looking for the next best thing to Marillion to emerge in my neck of the woods. However, they took the bull by the horns, and created a loyal following in the Detroit area. It wasn't just the challenging music that drew fans. The live shows harkened back to Gabriel-era Genesis. Matthew Parmenter changed costumes for each song, and wore his now trademark mime makeup. This led to his nick name, The Magic Acid Mime. They had no recording contract, but their cassette tapes were very well received.

In 1993 Discipline recorded their first proper album, "Push & Profit." It wasn't exactly a smash, but it was a critical success. A supporting tour in Norway also proved that they had moved far beyond local hero status. To get proper albums out there, they created their own independent label. DISCIPLINE, and Matthew Parmenter, are the only artists on Strung Out Records. "Push and Profit" was not your typical Neo fare. They took cues from many different areas of the prog realm. Where lesser bands using this approach might seem unfocused, DISCIPLINE blended it together as if this is the way it is supposed to be done.

1997 saw the release of the much-heralded "Unfolded Like a Staircase." Most (if not all) of the whimsy found on the debut was gone. This was a much darker album, and consisted of four long tracks. For this album, a Peter Hammill influence was very much in the forefront. That did not deter the fans, and it solidified what was to become their legendary status.

Although the studio albums were spaced o...
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  • Canto IV Unfolded Like Staircase, 1997

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Captives Of The Wine Dark SeaCaptives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Audio CD$16.98
This One's for EnglandThis One's for England
Strung Out Records 2014
Audio CD$12.99
$13.96 (used)
Push & ProfitPush & Profit
Strung Out Records 1993
Audio CD$12.58
$11.95 (used)
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DISCIPLINE discography

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

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

3.60 | 30 ratings
Chaos Out Of Order
3.54 | 138 ratings
Push & Profit
4.24 | 353 ratings
Unfolded Like Staircase
4.19 | 606 ratings
To Shatter All Accord
5.00 | 1 ratings
Captives of the Wine Dark Sea

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

4.01 | 31 ratings
Into The Dream ... Discipline Live
4.27 | 41 ratings
Live Days
4.70 | 40 ratings
This One's for England

DISCIPLINE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.14 | 23 ratings
Live 1995

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

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Unfolded Like Staircase by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 353 ratings

Unfolded Like Staircase
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

2 stars One of the more overrated prog albums of the 1990s. Apparently Matthew Parmenter had just discovered Van der Graaf Generator prior to the recording of Unfolded Like Staircase, explaining why Push & Profit was quite a bit different. So it's little surprise the VdGG influence can be felt, but I also detect a Spock's Beard influence as well, because Parmenter's voice alternates between that of Peter Hammill and that of Neal Morse. "Canto IV" and "Crutches" aren't bad, but the problem in this CD is it's way too long and it sounds like they ran out of ideas after the first two cuts. It's CDs like this that gives me a reminder why in recent years, thanks to the vinyl revival (starting about 2007 or '08) many artists were starting to scale back to 40-45 minutes and the albums, to my ears, have improved, because you're not having to sit through lots of filler. It's easier for artists to pick the cream of the crop if having to stick to 40-45 minutes of music. Unfolded Like Staircase is much like Echolyn's As the World to my ears, just drawn out way too long. Of course I can't say that lengthy releases of the 1990s were all bad, Porcupine Tree managed some great music during their early space rock phase (pre-Stupid Dream) and their CDs were normally around an hour long or more, even during their more popular phase (In Absentia and beyond). And then you have Änglagård (who were wise to keep the music around 45 minutes), which set the standard so high it would be difficult for any other artist from that era to touch them. Still Unfolded Like Staircase doesn't fall into the neo-prog trap, but it's not entirely retro either, the vocals and style does sound '90s, even if some low key Mellotron is used. I realize in the 1990s they feel they'd sell more copies if the CD consists of two ten minutes cuts and a 20 minute piece, which I think is a dangerous trap to keep the quality consistent throughout. Spock's Beard's The Light, for example does have a couple ten minute pieces and one piece over 20 minutes, but surprisingly the CD is excellent (and I'm not even the biggest Spock's Beard fan, because my gripe about them is their frequent commercial/mainstream approach). I do take a lot of prog since the 1990s with a grain of salt, as many of them fall short of the great stuff (well known and obscure) from the 1970s. Discipline, to my ears, falls short. I know some of you will enjoy it, so I know Unfolded Like Staircase has its fans, but it simply left me cold, no matter how many times I've listened to it.
 Unfolded Like Staircase by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 353 ratings

Unfolded Like Staircase
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 80

When I wrote my review about their debut studio album 'Push & Profit' released in 1994, I said that I have received that album few weeks ago and that I hoped receive their second studio work, very soon. Unfortunately, I only got 'Unfolded Like Staircase' some months ago, and so and unexpectedly, only now it was possible for me to make the review of it.

Discipline is an American progressive group formed in 1987 by high school students Matthew Parmenter (vocals and multi-instruments), Jon Preston Bouda (backing vocals and guitars), Matthew Kennedy (bass) and Paul Dzendel (drums and percussions), in Royal Oak, Michigan. They had also another band's member, David Krofchock, who was the band's keyboard player from 1990 to 1993, and took part of their debut album 'Push and Profit'. Since the early days, the vocalist Parmenter and the leader of the band, made the band's live concerts changing elaborate costumes for each song, like Peter Gabriel usually did in the early days of Genesis and also as Fish did in the early days of Marillion. Because of that, usually, Discipline was often compared to Genesis and Marillion. However, the Discipline's music has also been compared to Van Der Graaf Generator, not because of their debut studio album 'Push And Profit', but because of their following work, this second studio album 'Unfolded Like Staircase'.

As I wrote before, Parmenter is the leader of the band and he usually writes all the songs on their albums. It also sings and plays several musical instruments like keyboards, violin, saxophone and orchestra chimes. Thanks to their great live shows, Discipline built up a good reputation in Detroit, which is very strange and curious, since this American region isn't usually influenced by the progressive rock music. So, in 1993 the group released their first album, and to support that album, the group toured the USA in supporting of various progressive artists and bands like Steve Howe, the Yes' guitarist, and Anekdoten, an excellent Swedish heavy progressive group, hugely influenced by King Crimson.

'Unfolded Like Staircase' is composed of four long pieces of music. It isn't at all a minimalist album, but it has a myriad of details and a constant development, coherence and balance in the whole work. In these things resides part of the personality of this musical work magnificently interpreted in a truly masterful way. This is an album with a work of exceptional composition. The music on the album has all the elements that characterized a very uncommon world. We have the drama, restlessness, darkness, delirium, tragedy, schizophrenia, but above all, it shows the amazing beauty that can be hidden in the darkest places into our minds. However, those influences reside only in the essence of the music. Both, voices and instruments, have very little to do with the finale style of the Van Der Graaf Generator's music. However, in my point of view, we can clearly see on 'Unfolded Like Staircase' several other musical influences from the 70's. When I listen to this album for the first time, I became completely astonished and amazed with so many different musical influences on only a single album or even only on a single track. I can clearly see on it two other very strong influences of the 70's, the influences of Genesis in the Gabriel's era and the influences of King Crimson in their first phase. By the other hand, I can also see some more recent musical influences on the album. Those influences are the neo-prog influences, particularly from the excellent neo- prog British band IQ. If we think a little bit about it, this last musical influence isn't as strange as it seems. The neo- prog style isn't so different from the symphonic style. If you compare Genesis in the era Gabriel and Marillion in the era Fish, you see what I mean. Anyway, the solo musical career of Parmenter fits perfectly well into this musical style. I also strongly recommend the Parmenter's solo musical career.

Conclusion: When I reviewed 'Push & Profit' I said that I became surprised, because I expected that the music of the band was more surprising, strange, aggressive, improvised and complex, like Anglagard's music. However, after listen to 'Unfolded Like Staircase', several times, I completely changed my opinion about Discipline's music. In my humble opinion, 'Unfolded Like Staircase' is an album completely different from 'Push & Profit'. This is an album much more mature, complex, aggressive, surprising and totally progressive, with dark lyrics and also with a dark theatrical musical atmosphere. 'Unfolded Like Staircase' is really an astonishing progressive album, and I'm completely amazed with the quality produced by them on it. Sincerely, I'm really surprised with so many different musical influences on a single album or on a single track. I agree with Easy Livin when he says that this is a band with their roots firmly in neo-prog, especially due to the influences of IQ. By the other hand the influences of Genesis in Gabriel's era, King Crimson in their first phase, and of course Van Der Graaf Generator, are very strong, indeed. So, 'Unfolded Like Staircase' is a truly masterpiece and one of the best albums released by one of the most amazing bands that emerged in the 90's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Push & Profit by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.54 | 138 ratings

Push & Profit
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 22

Discipline is an American progressive group formed in 1987 by five high school students in Royal Oak, Detroit, Michigan. Matthew Parmenter is the leader of the group. He writes all the songs, sings and plays several instruments.

The first time I saw the band's name was on this site. When I read for the first time the group's biography on Progarchives, I was very curious about it. What most caught my attention was the reference to Anglagard, the superb Swedish symphonic progressive group. It compared Discipline as their US counterpart. In reality, the similarities between both groups seemed to me very obvious. Both are from the beginning of the 90's, both are from the symphonic progressive sub-genre, both only has made two studio albums and one live album until they broke in the end of the last century, both returned at the same time about 2010, both were two obscure bands only known by a limited group of progressive rock fans, and finally, both have their albums rated in a very high level on Progarchives.

So, soon as I could, I ordered to one of my usual suppliers, to buy their albums. A few months ago, I received their debut studio album "Push And Profit" released in 1994, and I hope to receive their second, very soon. I confess that I was doubly surprised by the album, when I listened to it for the first time. In the first place, I expected that the music on the album was more surprisingly, strange, aggressive, improvised and complex, than it is, probably thinking on Anglagard music. In the second place, I don't became nothing disappointed with it, because the band's music on the album is very good, which was for me, a very pleasant surprise, despite being very different from the Anglagard sound.

The line up on the album is Matthew Parmenter (lead vocals, guitar, violin, programming, tambourine and synthesizer), Jon Preston Bouda (backing vocals and lead guitar), David Krofchock (backing vocals, piano, organ and synthesizer), Matthew Kennedy (bass guitar) and Paul Dzendel (drums and percussion).

"Push And Profit" has eight tracks. The first track "Diminished" is a track with a slowly opening which is a good start for the album. Excellent Parmenter's voice accompanied wonderfully by the piano and with some violin interventions. This is a very strong track that reminds me some softer parts of early Genesis. The second track "The Reasoning Wall" is the most complex and elaborated track on the album and is the most progressive track too. It reminds me King Crimson and Gentle Giant. This is a superb song. The third track "Carmilla" is another excellent piece of music that should delight fans of King Crimson. It's a very beautiful song that combines moments of calm and emotional vocals, with some musical explosions, what makes a great musical combination. It's the lengthiest track on the album with great guitar work, sustained by nice keyboard work on the back. The fourth track "The Nursery Year" is a song that reminds me Genesis, starting with its title. It's a very soft song with different vocal tones. The lyrics are about paedophilia, about a child molested, and the soft melody makes the song very disturbing. This is another great track that every progressive fan should hear. The fifth track "Faces Of The Petty" is the smallest song on the album. Personally, I don't like very much of it. This is more a rock and roll song than a progressive song, and I think it's a little bit dislocated on the album. It represents the only weak musical point on it. The sixth track "Systems" is a calm ballad with good Parmenter's vocals, and represents a good musical moment on the album. Again, we have the sound that we love so much, a reminiscence of the old Genesis. The seventh track "Blueprint" is the only instrumental track on the album. It has nice guitar and keyboard works, and is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It reminds me Pink Floyd, especially the guitar work, which has great similitude with Gilmour's style. The eighth track "America" is one of the most beautiful songs from the band and one of my favourites on the album, too. It reminds me also the oldest Pink Floyd ballads. This is another excellent track that finished this brilliant musical journey through the confused brain of a listener, if he was caught off guard, who probably still can't understand what he was allowed to just listen.

Conclusion: "Push And Profit" is a great debut studio work by Discipline, despite being an album with so many diverse musical influences such as Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Gentle Giant. So, this is an excellent album that will deserve your special attention, especially if you are a great fan of the good old 70's, the classic golden age of the progressive music. The name of the group might be like the 80's King Crimson's incarnation, but the music is definitely different, more romantic, more melodic, more traditional and not so neurotic. Definitely, "Push And Profit" is an excellent album, and I'm very curious and anxious to receive their second studio album "Unfolded Like Staircase", which seems to be even better. So, do yourself a favour. Buy it now. You're losing really a great work.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 This One's for England by DISCIPLINE album cover Live, 2014
4.70 | 40 ratings

This One's for England
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Yes I assumed this was recorded live in England, but no(haha). This is taken from their live performance at RoSfest in 2012. Man I do love this band, and it's unusual for me to feel that each record they have put out is better than the one before. DISCIPLINE play a dark style of music with plenty of mellotron and are often compared to VDGG, so what's not to like? This is a double album with 8 tracks on it including two from the debut "Push & Profit", two from "Unfolded Like Staircase", and four from their latest "To Shatter All Accord" which is the album they were touring on here.

"Circuitry" is a dark beauty that opens with some nasty guitar as the organ floats in. Vocals follow and Matthew is in fine form here. Such a cool section before 3 minutes as it settles with picked guitar and floating organ but I also dig it when it kicks back into gear with some intense drumming and guitar work. A great way to start the performance. "Before The Storm" from "Unfolded Like Staircase" is a top three for me. This moves me for some reason. The guitar after a minute reminds me of ANEKDOTEN. Nice section too before 3 1/2 minutes with the organ and guitar standing out. Powerful stuff after 6 minutes. So freaking good! Mellotron 7 1/2 minutes in and check out the guitar and organ late. This song blends into "Blueprint" where it continues to be picked guitar and organ leading the way. It turns very FLOYD-like before 2 minutes when the organ gets louder. A cool instrumental. "Dead City" is not about Detroit as Matthew mentions in the intro. This song is brighter and more upbeat, catchy even. Some excellent keyboards in this one along with some ripping guitar before 3 minutes. A big finish ends it. "When She Dreams She Dreams In Color" is another top three for me. It's 5 minutes in before the song kicks into gear but I really enjoy those 5 minutes. A calm follows then it slowly builds. An incredible track! The final track on disc one is the almost five minute "Band Introductions" where we hear how funny Matthew Parmenter is. Such a dry sense of humour and man he made me laugh out loud a few times. Fun stuff.

"Canto IV(Limbo)" is my other top three although "Rogue" is right there too, tough choice. Anyway drums and piano pound away to start before it settles some with guitar and more. It then calms right down with reserved vocals as outbursts of power come and go. Love the organ solo after 6 1/2 minutes and the guitar too that joins in. A driving rhythm before 8 minutes with vocals as themes then start to be repeated. "The Reasoning Wall" opens with piano before it kicks in with a humerous vibe. Love how intricate this all is after 2 minutes. It then turns melancholic a minute later and the guitar proceeds to light it up. Vocals and that lighter and humerous sound return 5 1/2 minutes in. "Rogue" is the closer and the longest tune at almost 24 minutes. I really like the tone of the guitar here to start and it becomes very VDGG-like before 2 minutes. A calm after 4 minutes with guitar and vocals before it kicks back in after 6 minutes. This song has so many shades and colours to it as it plays out. Mellotron 8 1/2 minutes in and guitar a minute later. So good! It turns brighter before 17 minutes. What a ride!

I just can't give this less than 5 stars, i'm so impressed with this band and their sound. A must!

 Unfolded Like Staircase by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 353 ratings

Unfolded Like Staircase
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by JCDenton

5 stars Discipline's Unfolded Like Staircase seemed like an album that would bring a tight group even tighter in sound. I find it very established, as to say the band have found their own sound (partial credit due to Van der Graaf and Crimson). There are the mellotron moments, long instrumental passages, too, some of the common characteristics in a Prog group. Discipline sounds like a classic group totally refined with a modern sound. In fact, I think they distinguish themselves from the granddad groups. They created four excellent tracks here, all epics, none of them sticking out as the weakest or runt of the bunch. My only disappointment is that this is the last album from the group's early times where they showed so much potential (To Shatter All Accord from their 2011 comeback is still great, but that's beside the point!).

"Canto IV" is my favorite piece here. It starts out with a catchy syncopated rhythm that will appear later on in the song, The song tones down for the dark vocals, very moving. The song goes through some great instrumental passages, some more upbeat, some heavy, and some darker. The song builds itself up well and flows through all transitions nicely.

Most of the rest of the album has many of the same characteristics of the first track, though all songs have their own unique ideas. "Before the Storm" is the most dramatic of the bunch. "Into the Dream" instills the most tension in the listener. Polyrhythms are used, usually with the drums playing a simple time and skipping a beat at the end of a bar, while the other instruments play in asymmetrical times.

This band just let the ideas flow, and it stays coherent with nothing stressing. This is a very solid album! Easily a favorite.

 To Shatter All Accord by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.19 | 606 ratings

To Shatter All Accord
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by aneznam

2 stars 2.4/5

Although i'm more of an old school prog fan of 60' and 70', i got curious about this album, since it has such a good rating. To be honest, I did not expect anything, i just wanted to hear something new. Unfortunately i did not hear anything new. It has many influences, that can one hear, from heavy metal to crossover prog.

First song has a nice intro to the album, followed by second song which has also hard riffs and long 'finale' enriched whit two riffs and some nice intermezzo soloes, nothing especially progressive.

The third song can be compared with VDGG only with rougher vocals but still inadequate due to lack of avangard to compensate. It finishes roughly like the 21st Sc. Man which is flatering to I. McDonald and Fripp.

The fourth one has a nice progression but unfortunately it is all heard, nothing new like there is in Hybris from Anglagard for example.

As for the last composition; Rogue - very nice intro, I'm also a classical guitar player so i can really say it has beauty in it. The continuation of the song is one of my favourite part, very nice. Sequence that follows has parts that reminded me of MO - Birds of Fire, but that's about it what is excellent, last 4 min. was a slow parting which didn't touch my emotional side.

Good album, nice music, but unfortunately, it didn't leave a print in my ears.

 This One's for England by DISCIPLINE album cover Live, 2014
4.70 | 40 ratings

This One's for England
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars There is no doubt in my mind that one of the most important bands to come out of America in the last 25 years is Discipline, and when they reformed and released 'To Shatter All Accord' it was certainly no surprise to see it rated so highly. In fact, according to ProgArchives it is still the #1 album of that year. So, they were then invited to appear at the mighty RosFest in 2012, and this double CD is the recording of that performance. So, just eight songs on this double digipak release, but that equates to nearly 100 minutes of music. Some of these songs have appeared on live albums before, but given that they haven't released that many albums that really isn't suprising. And to be honest, a live album without a performance of "Canto IV (Limbo)" would be both unthinkable and unforgiveable.

Singer and keyboard player Matthew Parmenter also provides all of the material, but this is much more than just a one-man show and the rest of the guys were all there when 'Push & Profit' was released in 1994. This is a group that have been influenced by the likes of early Genesis and Anekdoten, but have created a path very much of their own making. One would never guess that these guys are from North America, as they have much more in common with the European progressive rock movement. Their approach is sometimes restrained, harmonic and almost lulling, but there are plenty of times when they are jagged and abrasive, Jon's guitar a strident noise against Matthew's organ while Matthew K and Paul provide the backdrop to let the music grow and move. I have been a fan of the band for many years, and the only thing wrong with this album is that it makes me realize just how much I am missing out by not being able to see them in concert. This is an essential purchase,

 Into The Dream ... Discipline Live by DISCIPLINE album cover Live, 1999
4.01 | 31 ratings

Into The Dream ... Discipline Live
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Discipline's first live album offers selections from the band's live appearance at Orion Studios' "Showcase" venue, allowing them to combine the warmth of a live performance before an enthusiastic audience with the recording quality of the studio. Matthew Parmenter's patter between the songs is omitted, presumably to keep the album to a single disc, but on the plus side the band are on top form and there's a great selection of tracks presented - everything from Unfolded Like Staircase except Before the Storm (decent live rendition of which are on Live Days and This One's For England), a smattering of material from Push and Profit, and an early rendition of Between Me and the End, which would not emerge on a studio album until Matthew Parmenter's Astray. Although a few tracks from here also made it to the more expansive Live Days, there's enough that's exclusive to this release to make it worthwhile for every Discipline fan.
 Chaos Out Of Order by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.60 | 30 ratings

Chaos Out Of Order
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Although a couple of pieces from it - Mickey Mouse Man and Wrists - have found their way into more recent Discipline live setlists, in general Discipline haven't widely trumpeted the Chaos Out of Ordr demo tape - but all that's changed with this 25th anniversary reissue of the material. What we have here is a very early incarnation of Discipline, where the lush, meaty sound we've come to know on albums from Push and Profit onwards wasn't quite in place and the musicians were all still at an early stage in their musicla development.

Sound quality is actually pretty decent for a demo tape, and musically speaking there's interesting stuff on here, provided you have patience for extended instrumental noodling. It's a decent look at the 1980s Discipline sound and should be treasured for that, and happily it's also a fun listen in its own right, but if you haven't heard Discipline's major studio albums first I'd prioritise getting those over this.

 To Shatter All Accord by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.19 | 606 ratings

To Shatter All Accord
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Sanki

2 stars Unfolded like a Staircase is 5-star album for me; after so many years, when Discipline released To Shatter All Accord, I was excited. Helas, a big disappointment. I do not think that good prog needs to have long songs; unfortunately this album has too pieces (especially the last one) that left the impression of forced length with repetitive passages and less than interesting transitions and melodies. When the Walls are Down is pure noise to me; I skip it. Circuitry and Dead City are listenable but they do not have the sophistication of any of the pieces in the Staircase. To me, Parmenter's solo album, Astray, is better.
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