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miRthkon - Vehicle CD (album) cover





4.03 | 102 ratings

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3 stars The promise of yet another new RIO-styled avant rock group coming from the US is enough to get any avant-prog fan excited, so my first being aware of miRthkon (that is how they spell their brand) whetted some excitement in me. The opportunity to hear yet another up-and- coming act that could promise the future of avant-prog was too enticing for me to resist.

So, I turn on the album and I am immediately hit with a silly spoof of a car commercial. I have to admit, "Congratulations" is very well done; the humour is quite sharp and effective. That humour translates directly into "Banana", and the promises VEHICLE had before seem to be coming true. A true avant-prog song where I can tell the band had fun recording the track, and it has a memorable theme to boot. As far as instrumental joy, "Flashbulb of Orgasm", "Automaton" and "Zhagurk" have plenty of it with complex flair that fits the avant- prog theme well.

But then something happens on "Kharm's Way", and the balloon tears and starts fizzling. And it keeps fizzling until "Camelopardis" comes and fixes it. This is when I realised the startling comparisons between the sound here and French TV. Both bands have the same fatal flaw: the music is simply TOO complicated.

The complexity shouldn't sound like the Achilles heel of a prog band, but that's exactly why VEHICLE sputters in the middle of the album. We get top-heavy woodwinds that play notes that sound like cheat codes for video games, metally rhythms underneath that sound like if SGM ate Magma, and an overall meh feeling after the songs are over. Complex themes and avant sensibilities work well when there's a lilt that the listener can remember, and I can't find one memorable note from the crater of tracks in the middle. It's as if complexity is the fuel for this VEHICLE, and it won't run unless there's copious amounts of it in its system.

Also, miRthkon never takes a break from the hyperactive complexity. There's never any sort of calm moment for the listener to catch up as if the complexity just runs away from the listener as if they want to beat him/her at something. To pull in an example from a rival avant-prog band, Make a Rising has a crazy opening to their INFINITE ELLIPSE album called ''Sneffels Yokul'', but right after, they bring the pace down a bit in a simple piano- based tune in ''All One or None''. These calms and dynamic level drops give the listener some space and can allow him/her time to adjust to what's going on. They're meant for the listener to breathe a bit between the crazy parts; there's barely a moment here where the music relaxes for a few moments. It stinks that an album with so much musical potential is dragged down by a theoretical concept, but with everything being too hyper-complex, songs seem to blend into each other in a very nondescript way.

But the worst of the lot is the singing on "Coven of Coyotes". I'll throw a reminder that on this very album also lies "Banana", a track that hit the humour note very well. Like I said earlier, I could tell that the band had fun recording that "Banana" song. On ''Coven of Coyotes'', that feeling seems to have evaporated. The singing is somehow annoying, the melodies they attempt are too jagged, and there are too many notes the singers are trying to shove in a second in instances. The complexity of the song does not allow the words to be spat out like "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General", but the band attempts that cluttering and the result sounds unnecessarily forced.

Finally, there's "Camelopardis", and it is a great way to cap off the album. Great a solid base with a memorable rhythm and put some woodwinds over the top without over- embellishing any notes. Pure and simple.

miRthkon has every bit of potential to succeed, and if you love unbelievably astounding feats of magnificent complexity with some humourous punch thrown in, you probably should check this album out. But VEHICLE is very flawed, mainly due to the runaway complexity that outsmarts itself at times. The first five tracks as well as "Cameloparids" are great and worthy of platitudes, but the band needs to take a step back and tone the notes down a bit. VEHICLE is filled with many positive attributes of the avant-prog scene, but it tends to carry a good chunk of the baggage as well.

Sinusoid | 3/5 |


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