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Rascal Reporters - Redux, Vol. 1 CD (album) cover

REDUX, VOL. 1

Rascal Reporters

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.91 | 4 ratings

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TCat
4 stars There is a pretty good chance that you haven't heard of the RIO/Avant Prog band 'Rascal Reporters' before, even though they have been around since 1974. The story actually starts with a duo called 'Raw Meat' comprised of Steve Gore and David Johnson, but when Johnson was replaced by his friend Steve Kretzmer, the name changed to Rascal Reporters. Both Gore and Kretzmer play keyboards and drums and they were both composers, making recordings of all of their music which at one point, was being written at a rate of one per day. The band has actually retired because of their huge archive of music already recorded.

After a while, 1980 to be exact, they started releasing a few albums. Since 1980, they have released 8 full length albums, 2 compilations and two EPs. That's really not a lot considering that their latest release, 'Redux, Volume I', released in April of 2019, is their 8th full length album. It consists of archived music that the duo felt was unfinished because the proper equipment didn't exist at the time of the recording, but now it does exist so it has been finished. There will be a 2nd volume that will be released later. This album consists of 6 songs with a total run time of just over 32 minutes.

Through the years, the duo has recruited other musicians to help perform their music. For 'Redux, Vol. 1', there is a third member, James Strain, who also provides keyboards, drums, bass, and guitar. Usually, recordings will consist primarily of compositions from one of the original two members. On this album, most of the tracks are compositions of Kretzmer, with only one being from Gore. Strain shares credits on most of the tracks and he performs on every track.

The music is definitely complex, as you would expect from this genre. The meters are constantly changing, yet the overall feel is bright. There are a lot of jazz elements throughout, with the tracks mostly led by piano and other keyboards, but there are instances of brass, and the drums are very important in helping to anchor the constantly fluctuating tempos and meters. There is also plenty of stylized guitar in there to provide variety. It all starts out with a short, sunny track 'Improv Cost Me My Job', which flows right into the longest track (over 13 minutes), 'Hubert Greenery Peck' which is an ever-changing, dynamic track, somewhat similar to 'Henry Cow', complex, jazzy, and very avant garde.

'One of Our Dogs is Missing' follows a somewhat stately theme, but has so much fast paced improvisation going on around it, that at times it's hard to pick out the theme. It slows down a bit towards the last minute. 'My Three Sounds' is led by the piano and is a more relaxed feel, yet it is still complex. Things soon pick up to reflect the complexity of the previous tracks and then the usual progressive elements run rampant as the piano retains control over the other layers. Listen closely and you'll later hear the 'My Three Sons' theme come in and take everything over. 'Egos Explode' is the only Gore composition on this album. There is definitely a different feel for this track as it is completely awash in synth layers that feel like they are coming in waves over you. After a while, the rhythm section comes in, but don't expect any normalcy as the synths continue to refuse to follow any beat, but the drums finally pull things together a bit. Layers of oddness continue. Last of all, 'Her Kind' has a more accessible feel to it, and, yes, there are actually lyrics and vocals on this one, provided by Kretzmer, which is rare for this band. The vocals are nothing to get excited about, but it is an attempt to make something somewhat accessible, but it is still a bit tricky compared to most music. So, it's not really a throw away track, but it is the least interesting.

This could have easily been a 5 star album if it were a bit longer and if they had substituted something more interesting to end the album on, but it is still excellent, and it also makes me want to explore some of their other music. I will definitely be on the look out for their albums. In spite of those drawbacks, I can still give it a 4 star rating in that the other tracks are great. This is one for the lovers of complex prog similar to Henry Cow and the jazzier side of Zappa.

TCat | 4/5 |

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