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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Speechless - Time Out Of Mind (new prog band)
    Posted: April 30 2007 at 19:56
I already mentioned this Atlanta based quartet in other threads (including my I Recommend thread), but I wanted to have a thread for them alone (as I will do for several other bands in the future).
 
First of all, introduction - the band's biography here in PA:
 
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, SPEECHLESS craft a mix of contemporary American symphonic rock with classic heavy Prog. The group's beginnings were in a KANSAS cover band, and each player is a long time member of the Atlanta music community. Their emphasis is on instrumental pieces with a strong rock guitar sound and melodic keyboards which flesh out this quartet of drums (Derik Rinehart), bass (Paul Rusek), guitar (Sean Tonar) and keys (Robbie Hamil). Much influence is taken from RUSH, GENESIS, SAGA, YES and at times fusion ensembles like RETURN TO FOREVER.

SPEECHLESS' first album on their own Out of Mind Music label, "Time Out of Mind", features nine solid tracks including 'In the Clouds', 'Spidercrawl' and 'Vader's Boogie', each quite varied but with strong modern Symphonic and Art Rock tendencies.

Another terrific American prog band doing things their way and keeping quality rock music alive in the Southeastern United States.

Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
SPEECHLESS is one of the better heavy symphonic rock outfits from the U.S. and will please listeners who appreciate continuity in the Prog from North America. Fans of RUSH, HAPPY THE MAN and SAGA will be satisfied by this classic-sounding band.

 
Another point of interest is that guitarist Sean Tonar is the creator and moderator of www.progressiveears.com which is one of the major prog websites.
 
 
 
I am now going to bring you several reviews. Simply choose whichever one you want to read.
 
 
Here's the only review currently here in PA:

SPEECHLESS — Time Out Of Mind

Review by Squire Jaco

4%20stars “Time Out Of Mind” is the 2006 debut album from the Atlanta-based all-instrumental quartet known as Speechless. This is very good rock guitar-oriented symphonic prog/jazz fusion with similarities to other American bands like 4Front, Bad Dog U, Helmet of Gnats, Syzygy, and Parallel Mind (not to mention the better known Happy the Man and Dixie Dregs).

I like the diversity of sound they provide - they’re not always painting from the same sound palette. Their website lists a ton of influential bands that range from jazz to fusion to hard rock to prog to metal. (I didn’t hear any metal on this cd - whew!) I guess I most often heard some weird marriage of Steely Dan and Rush! They really have a unique sound all their own.

The songs are mostly in the 4-8 minute range, and are typically groove-oriented (as they self-proclaim!) with a nice balance of guitar, keys, bass and drums. They are all seasoned experts on their respective instruments, but I must say that the drumming in particular stands out for me.

The neat cd artwork is always a plus, but it wouldn’t influence my rating. This is the kind of music I’ve been leaning towards most these days - it’s melodic yet challenging, jazzy yet propulsive, intense as well as playful. And they do it all very well.

Recommended, especially if you’re into the comparison bands listed above.

Posted Thursday, April 26, 2007, 11:11 EST | Permanent link

 
And here are some more from other websites:
 
 
 
What can one say about yet another fusiony, instrumental prog band? No, seriously, I'm asking — what can one say? I'm having trouble thinking up anything new or interesting to write.

The promotional material that came with the review copy of Time Out of Mind stresses that the music of Speechless is entirely instrumental (thus the band name), and that they incorporate aspects of many different musical genres. But that's not exactly anything new to prog fans. Existing reviews compare the band to just about every largely instrumental prog and fusion band around. The Dixie Dregs' name crops up a lot, as does Kansas for reasons I'm not quite clear on (there's no violin!). I could add a couple more — the heavier pieces remind me of a less-metallic Liquid Tension Experiment, and at least one song, "Stella," reminds me of a less-technoish Ozric Tentacles.

The music is well-composed and flawlessly performed. As others have pointed out, there's a nice balance amongst the four instruments (bass, drums, keyboards and guitar). I could easily see these guys filling the fusion slot at a prog festival and going over really well. The recording quality of this CD could be a little crisper, but it's certainly not bad for a self-produced disc. There's really nothing that can be pointed out as a flaw here.

But there's also nothing that can be pointed out as unique or groundbreaking or even very interesting. Considering that nearly every review, even in their own promotional packet, compares them to many existing bands that are playing very similar music, it's only natural to ask "Why do we need yet another band like that"? So while I don't dislike the CD — in fact, I honestly enjoy it — there's just not much for me to get excited about here. On the other hand, if you don't care about originality and are just jonesing for some new, well-crafted instrumental prog and fusion, then this is just what the doctor ordered.

Review by Bob Eichler
 
Fans of symphonic fusion in the style of, say, Spaced Out or Helmet of Gnats take note: Speechless are rolling one right down your alley. A quartet from Atlanta, Speechless specialize in an upbeat, melodic, chops-heavy instrumental fusion in which keys and guitar take equal portions of the lead. It's prog through-and-through, so those who are averse to lots of keyboard tones and grandiose flourishes typical of the genre should steer clear. Normally I would include myself in this group, but these guys have a pretty fine-tuned melodic sense that gives the album a certain appeal for me despite the predominance of keyboards that, in the words of a PopMatters reviewer writing about Happy the Man, seem to be "permanently set on Silly."

In fact, each of these songs is so chock-full of quick-footed solos and tasteful melodies that it's hard not to be impressed. The only real misstep is "Something Green," which treads way too close to loungey fuzak for my comfort. What's nice is that each of these songs has a distinct character, despite the limited instrumentation and consistent style, which is a solid testament to the band's identity and compositional talent. Tonar in particular shows off a nice diversity in style, here playing a hammering rock riff, there a fluid jazzy solo. While this kind of symphonic fusion will never hold all that much appeal for me, Speechless are definitely one of the better groups that I've heard that approach the style head-on. An impressive debut taken on its own terms. Review by Brandon Wu

 
And if that wasn't enough, here's a review from Sea Of Tranquility - http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=4772

A good review always has - at its heart - a one-sentence summary that enables the reader to understand the style of music under discussion - and the rest of the review embellishes that description.

Sorry, but with Time Out Of Mind, you won't get that pithy little summary. Can't be done. There's a bit of everything here, yet it doesn't slot into any pigeonhole, and it defies comparison with other artists.

Speechless is an Atlanta-based foursome that came together - partly - from the ashes of an occasional group that played Kansas cover tunes, called the Southern Wheatheads. But this record gives few hints of those origins - and Speechless now plays hard-edged progressive music with a bit of fusion influence, a bit of symphonic rock, a bit of Yes, a bit of Kansas, a bit of Dixie Dreggs, a bit of Return to Forever ... and a lot of heart, and no vocals. We once described it as "...a potpourri of rock, progressive music and fusion, and above all, each song gets into a head-nodding groove that drives it through its constant shifts and rich melodies". One band member said "Groove is what taps a toe, what bobs a head, and gets people listening. I call it Groove Oriented Instrumental Rock." Another band member said it was "...like soundtracks for short films yet to be made", and later, said it had "a jam band feel ... heavy rock, basically ... rock, metal, jazz, funk, reggae, pomp, world, avant and more."

Get the picture? This music is hard to describe.

The band comprises the standard rock band ensemble - keyboards, guitar, bass and drums - and the thing that stands out most about Speechless is that no single instrument stands out any more than the others. They share the limelight in equal measure in the compositions, in the mix, and in the band members' contribution to the songwriting. From the excellent opener "In The Clouds", to the deep groove of "Something Green", through the wailing guitar sections in "Stella", to the breath-catching melodicism and rich 'Tron-like choirs of "Spidercrawl", this record will catch you by the throat and for 50 minutes it won't let go until the somewhat abrupt ending of the 9-minute mini-epic "Vader's Boogie" drops you like a stone and leaves you panting for more. This music is alive and energetic, with few really quiet moments. It is impressive yet unpretentious, melodic yet complex, modern yet true to the '70s origins of prog.

The cover art was courtesy of Will "Inkenstein" Renfro, and it is as complex - yet cohesive - as the music it illustrates. In fact the band says Renfro has been officially dubbed their 'fifth member'. Production is solid and the mix yields crystal clear separation of each instrument, yet it avoids that in-your-face style that plagues so many modern prog acts. Click here to read our in-depth interview with Speechless, in which all four band members describe the making of Time Out Of Mind.

It's a fairly safe bet that almost every segment of the progressive music community will appreciate the tremendous musicianship, the refreshing upbeat tones and the wonderful grooves they'll find on Time Out Of Mind. It will have equal appeal to fans of metal, symphonic, fusion, and 3rd-wave prog. But beyond that - don't ask us to describe it. You'll just have to hear it yourself.

 
 
There are four reviews here, and I'll let you get to those yourself. Some of them are good descriptions.
 
 
And here's a piece of news from Progressive World.net - http://www.progressiveworld.net/html/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=438
 
 
Here you can listen to the band:
 
For those who want it, you can buy it here for 11.70$:
Or here as well:
Wayside (12$)
Kinesis (12.99$)
There are other places of course
 
 
 
If you know the album, post your thoughts and comments on it, please.
 
 
 


Edited by avestin - May 01 2007 at 09:45
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 01 2007 at 11:33

I don't know the album yet. It has two contradicting reviews on Ground and Sky, but I tend to trust the favourable one more. If they're as good as 4Front, Parallel Mind (amazing bands) or even A Helmet of Gnats, then my jaw is probably going to drop when I hear them.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 01 2007 at 12:39
Not sure about dropped jaw, but I know I enjoy listening to it quite a lot.
Helmet Of Gnats would be a nice point of reference, yes, but while I hear the influences in their music, they bring their own sound and the end result is not a sound-alike.
In the end of the day, it's a fine and fun album to listen to.
 
I deliberately wanted to bring mixed views so that people see the "good" and the "bad" and also if they prefer a certain reviewer or view then they'll know if they trust the rating.
I'm glad you could find the one you liked (Brandon's one, I see).
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 01 2007 at 12:47
Alright, for reference, to my newbish self.
 
Heavy Symphonic, as in Neal Morse's solo output, or classic heavy, say along the lines of KC or whatnot?
[QUOTE=darkshade] [QUOTE=Sckxyss]
I'm disappointed - neither of these players are avant-garde!

Al di Meola.

[/QUOTE]

haha i know. but the poll itself is avant-garde
[/QUOTE]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 02 2007 at 13:39

I don't hear a heavy Symphonic, but more of a light influence one, mingled with some jazz-rock and overall I hear other bands (Rush came to mind several times in there, due to guitar riffs). But this is not only guitar driven, as the keyboards also have a major role here.

You can listen to the songs on Myspace and get an idea (the link is above).
 
 
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