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Spock's Beard - Noise Floor CD (album) cover

NOISE FLOOR

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.69 | 100 ratings

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patrickq
2 stars The first Spock's Beard album I've heard and the only one I own, Noise Floor has its moments, but not enough of them, in my opinion. I'm sure that some Spock's Beard fans will point out that Noise Floor isn't the place to start listening to the band's music, and this may be true. I'm somewhat familiar with Nick D'Virgilio and Neal Morse, and while D'Virgilio contributed to the album as a performer, neither of these well-known musicians had been member of Spock's Beard for years prior to Noise Floor.

While there are prog-rock embellishments throughout, Noise Floor is essentially an AOR album played by a neo-prog band. The lyrics are a plaintive/introspective mix not unlike Pearl Jam or Matchbox Twenty, and the music tends to be radio-friendly. Much of Noise Floor seems to be a slightly less metallic version of Dream Theater - - or a slightly less dramatic version of IQ. There are Rush influences and even a nod to Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

If Noise Floor is in fact an AOR album played by a neo-prog band, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The issue to me isn't the style but the substance. Beyond the opener, "To Breathe Another Day," and some passages on a few other tracks, the songs aren't especially inspired. Some feel formulaic. Along the same lines, the playing is good - - very good, actually - - but in places it comes across as clinical. There are no bad songs (I'm including the canonical eight songs as well as the four "Cutting Room Floor" tracks), but that's probably because the band didn't take many chances with this album. Unfortunately, while repeated listens did reveal interesting performance details, they didn't deepen my understanding of the album.

So, nothing too special. If you're looking for recent neo-symphonic albums, I suggest Wobbler's Rites at Dawn (2011) and Blomljud by Moon Safari (2008).

patrickq | 2/5 |

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