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Matthew Parmenter - Astray CD (album) cover

ASTRAY

Matthew Parmenter

 

Neo-Prog

3.97 | 81 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars Genius composer/frontman of the American band DISCIPLINE, Matthew Parmenter produces a solo album that once again illustrates just how much Discipline is a mere extension of his ideas, his theatric sensibilities, his talents. In this reviewer's humble opinion, Matthew's talents and vocals far surpass the man to whom he is constantly compared (and who may very well have been an inspiration and model for Matthew): Peter HAMMILL. This album has a very deeply emotional feel to it--partly due to Matthew's vocal delivery style but also due to the very well-matched music. The album credits list friend and fellow DISIPLINE band member and bass player Matthew Kennedy as the only other musician collaborating with Parmenter. The rest of the layers of instrumentation belong to the multi-instrument-wielding composer.

1. Now (9:59) opens with a very catchy vocal hook and proceeds form there into some very interesting and engaging sound and structural territories--including some nice early-KING CRIMSON in the fifth through ninth minutes (with some truly awesome drumming during that same stretch!) One of my two favorites from this album. (10/10)

2. Distracted (7:40) is a nice song that is, unfortunately, very poorly engineered/mastered and could have been, in my opinion, much polished. As is, it sounds like a demo. A good demo, but a demo. So much potential here! (8/10)

3. Dirty Mind (9:21) trampses and builds like a classic DISCIPLINE song INow you see who the real composer of their songs was?!) but, like most DISCIPLINE epics, fails to keep me engaged and/or interested through to the end. (8/10)

4. Another Vision (7:08) almost feels like a song from Americana. It seems to drag on forever. Not being a lyrics-driven music listener, this proves to be far too tedious for my personal enjoyment. (7/10)

5. Some Fear Growing Old (6:57) opens with an Americana-like strummed acoustic guitar chord sequence that is joined by standard slow rock bass and drums while Matthew's voice (again very poorly recorded and mixed) sings a sorrowful dirge. The mid-song violin play, as simple as it is, is one of the song's highlights. The other is the layered vocal harmonies towards the end. (7/10)

6. Between Me and the End (5:56) is a stark, piano-only accompanied vocal, perhaps the most powerful and emotional song on the album. (10/10)

7. Modern Times (21:09) opens a little bombastically but then quickly calms down to a guitar, bass, drum and piano combo supporting Matthew's (rather poorly recorded) vocals. IN the fifth minute the song starts to sound like a sparsely instrumented KARDA ESTRA song--just before the electric guitars and heavier bass and drum play begin. I don't really like that the lead electric guitar soloing in front pushes Matthew's voice (further) into the background. The instrumental section beginning in the seventh minute sounds a little like KING CRIMSON 101--simple--though the drums get a little looser and more free-flowing by its end. At 8:15 the music shifts a little into a more bouncy, upbeat section to support one of Matthew's other theatric voices. But then, in true symphonic form, at 9:20 the music drops out leaving nothing but a droning organ and Matthew's demonic voice. Menacing singing, menacing words, and menacing music to support it. At 11:15 a melodic though still heavy section begins, with some pretty guitar soloing. The themes from this section spiral forward for a while--even through a vocal section or two--until at 16:25 there is a bridge to a shift into a more discordant though driving tempoed instrumental section--with kind of an "Apocalypse in 9/8" feel to it. Some nice guitar, bass and organ work here. Unfortunately, the build to climax in the twentieth minute falls flat--and, sadly, we never hear from Matthew's voice again. (9/10)

My gut feeling is that Matthew's choice to do so much of this album alone--including the recording, engineering, and mastering--led this to be an inferior representation of his genius. Matthew is not a sound engineer. He needs input/criticism from others in order to polish and bring his ideas to full fruition.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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