Album review: FRANK WYATT & FRIENDS – Zeitgeist


Self-released    [Release date: 01.11.19]

Frank Wyatt was a founding member of noted American band Happy The Man – who got together through a shared love of British progressive rock way back in 1973.

A series of prog albums followed and for a time they were on the famous Arista label, but, following a lack of commercial success, they parted company – but soldiered on with a series of self released albums.

Wyatt, the keyboard whizz of the band, was diagnosed with the Big C a few years back and decided to assemble a multitude of musicians that he had played with over the years to realise this project.

Whether or not you think it’s been worthwhile depends, I suspect, on whether you can relate to what I would term “hardcore prog”.

My wife wonders what I see in progressive rock – “what a row” is a common utterance – and I try to explain that it’s like panning for gold to find that little nugget – that little melodic gem glistening in the discordant sludge.

And there’s plenty of little nuggets here – but you’ve got to plough through a bucketload of dissonant and cacophonous sections to sift them out.

The panning process begins on the first track ‘Zeitgeist’ whose Genesis-like opening statement soon descends into a tumult of atonal noise. It rescues itself to play out quite nicely (a nugget) but the tone has been set for what follows.

There IS some ‘classic’ prog here too – ‘Leaving’ is unmistakably 1970s, ‘Eleventh Hour’ certainly has a Yes vibe and ‘Twelve Jumps’ could be Ozric Tentacles – and the sitar introduction to ‘The Approach’ together with its choir-like vocals is an album high-point.

The final four tracks make up the movements of a progressive rock symphony (!) and the discordant tropes reappear on ‘To Venus’ and reach their zenith on ‘The Green Lady’ – where true prog-heads will rejoice at the King Crimson-esque excursions into areas where melody is hard to find, where violins scrape away and where the whole track carries a real feeling of menace.

The final two pieces are, thankfully, more melodic, but all things are relative and fans of bands such as Marillion may well beg to differ.

Fans who ‘get’ King Crimson and their ilk will probably find much to admire on ‘Zeitgeist’ but devotees of the melodic end of the prog spectrum will, I suspect, find it irksome.

But that’s music, and tastes vary.

As Winnie The Pooh once said “we can’t all and some of us don’t – and that’s all there is to it”.    ***

Review by Alan Jones



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