Self Release [Release date 09.02.15]
The thing about both prog rock and avant garde music in general is that sometimes it’s best not to take it too seriously. Look no further than Focus for an example of a band capable of shifting from the humorous to the majestic in the blink of an eye. And while there are several moment of levity on ‘World War Trio EP (Part 1’), it takes itself just a tad too seriously and doesn’t quite have the musical depth to make a lasting impression.
New York prog trio Consider the Sounds work hard towards a cathartic release over their 23 and a half minute, 5 part ‘Put Another Rock In That Bag’ suite. They do reveal moments of melodic beauty and scintillating improvisation, but the latter dominates to the point that they sometimes lose their direction.
They balance spontaneous intensity with imaginative interlocked musical ideas, but they do so at the expense of flow.
This is an album made with undoubted love, care and total commitment. It sparks intermittently even when it does take them down a blind alley. But they have the skills to negotiate the occasional musical U-turn and surprise us with a change of pace and direction.
‘World War Trio Part One’, is sometimes dense, sometimes beautiful and certainly exhilarating. But while there’s a lot to be said for spontaneity and seeing where it can take you, there a few moments when the suite cries out for a little more clarity and less of the overused quiet-to-loud dynamics.
Led by a ghost like Theremin sounding wail which would not be out of place as a theme tune to an old sci-fi TV show, ‘Put Another Rock In That Bag’, isn’t so much a ground breaking piece of prog rock, as a dip into the band’s penchant for improvised magic and ethereal sounds.
Consider for example, the shrill, meandering wailing tone of Part 1 which is punctuated by occasional lightning shreds and leads to a frenetic finish. It just about works as a thematic opening device before it eventually segues into the pulsing intro of the slowly evolving bass-led Part 11.
Part 11 sounds like Yellow Magic Orchestra style electronics over a subtle backing drone, except it’s not a keyboard-led piece. Scan the liner notes and you discover that it is Gabriel Marin’s synth guitar which sculpts the sounds, as the band makes it clear there are no keyboards on the album at all.
Impressive as that might be, I don’t understand their reticence to use keyboards on an extended piece of prog, fusion and metal. However, they do hit a genuine groove on Part 11, as bass player John Ferrara imperceptibly takes the lead on arguably the most coherent piece of the album.
He also leads us into Part 111 with some gently evolving sonorous bass lines nuanced over intricate synth guitar notes. There’s a refreshing looser feel and a sense of a progression which takes us from a percolating opening and bubbles up to a symphonic middle section. The whole piece builds up via a psychotic wailing guitar to a tension building finale topped by a Zapparish ethereal sounds.
‘World War Trio Part 1’ is also consistent, in as much as each member of the band leads us into a different section of the suite, as evidenced by Parts 111 and IV which are segued by drummer Jeff Mann.
Gabriel Marin’s synth guitar again sounds like Moog on a beautiful hymnal melody interspersed with contrasting slashed metal chords. It’s a tension building device that moves the piece forward and leads to a repeated and much heavier King Crimson ‘Red’ era style guitar drone. Above all, the fractured guitar lines and frantic slapped bass sounds like a band really having fun!
‘Part V opens with Marin’s guitar noodles, more Robert Fripp style playing and lightning fast bass that borders on Metal. The suite comes full circle with a shrill, ghost sound that is similar to a boiling kettle. Perhaps it’s the band’s subliminal way of telling us they’ve hit fiver pitch on an album full of startling playing and fast moving ideas.
It may be an anathema for an improv outfit to consider tightly structured arrangements as the basis for their natural spark, but without them, they struggle to leave their own imprint on some inspired but familiar sounding prog rock, fusion and free form jazz. ***½
Review by Pete Feenstra
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