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5uu's - 5UU's & The Motor Totemist Guild: Elements CD (album) cover





3.55 | 17 ratings

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3 stars Second album to 5uu's, that more than band name it's a code name or logo for Dave Kerman and his cooperates. For those who are unfamiliar with the RIO scene, I'll mention that Dave Kerman is a well known musician from the American RIO movement, being a Drummer, composer-song writer and lyricist, active from the early 80's until today.

In this album he cooperates with the Motor Totemist Guild (what a great name for a band), in addition to some original 5uu's members. The other key member here is James Grigsby, the Totemists leader, and it seems that he took those origin, modern short songs by Dave Kerman, arrange them, 'structured' them a little bit, and the result is captivating, much better than 5uu's first album, and I would dare to say, much more organized than some later albums.

The entire album sound is very warm and acoustic, featuring instruments such as piano, cello and various woodwinds. Most of the melodies could be considered as modern/avant 'quirky' ones, but with a lot of grace and some of contemplative mood.

The lyrics, most of them written by Dave Kerman contain some philosophical thoughts about mankind and human nature, some 'echological' ideas, and some 'quirky' little stories.

The simplest song is 'Acknowledgments'. It sounds to me like a 40's-50's American song, delightful and sentimental tune instrumented by chamber acoustic ensemble. The most modern/avant song is 'Imperfections' which contain a unique structure: Each song line is separated from its successor by long silence, and starts with a dominant reverse effect. Any rhythmical approach is neglected, deliberately. This structure reminds me of some modern classical songs, and in my opinion to implement such a structure in a rock album is a very courageous and pioneering act. A great step forward has been done in this short, little song.

Other songs move in between those two edges, but tend much more to the avant direction. Few examples: 'The cause of merit' got interesting duo between vocals and bassoon, played by excellent bassoonist Eric Johnson. 'Elements' got a lazy, jazzy tune, which reminds me in association the American composer George Gershwin. 'The artist' is accompanied by dominant drums and vibes.

The overall level of this album, in aspect of songwriting, musicianship, arrangements and so on, moves between very well to excellence. A little reservation I have from vocalist Kurt Wilson, that although doing a good job transferring these non simple songs, in musical and expression terms, nevertheless something is missing here for me, or maybe it's just the too 80's flavor vocals? But let's consider that this is the era which this album has been released, and sure they didn't act in a vacuum.

All in all, personally I like this album very much, but somehow hesitate to award it full 4 stars. I'm not sure if it is that essential, even for RIO enthusiasts. It's a very much a matter of an acquired taste. In this particular case I won't try too hard to convince every proghead or even every RIOist to listen to that. But, if the album description seems to feet your personal taste, do not hesitate for too long before checking it out.

ShW1 | 3/5 |


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