Antares Records [Release date 13.03.20]
Southern California based Staring Into Nothing – Steve Rogers (keys/vocals) and Kurt Barabas (bass/vocals/guitars) – are a highly melodic, mildly proggy, rock combo, who bring a wide range of guest musicians into the studio to collaborate and complete their recordings.
Down from a three piece core, Savannah Rogers (acoustic guitar, lead & backing vocals) having departed following the band’s debut album Power (2017), Love was produced and mixed by Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson, Steve Morse, Ulver) and features performances from Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Santana, Ringo Starr) on drums, Victor Bisetti (Los Lobos) on percussion, Mike Keneally (Zappa, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani) on guitars, Trey Gunn (King Crimson, John Paul Jones) on Warr Guitar, and Danny T. Levin (Iggy Pop, Twenty One Pilots, Vampire Weekend) on horns.
Like its predecessor Power – which explored the use of power to manipulate and control, and drew comparisons to the likes of Porcupine Tree, Floyd and Rush, Love has a thematic concept, this time around the multiplicity and evolution of romantic love. Hardly very rock n roll!
It’s also similarly constructed ‘easy listening’ – nothing jars, in an almost anodyne Alan Parsons meets Toto sort of way, although somehow the production seems to even everything out, leaving very little by way of highs, or lows, and while everything is good, I’m not sure anything is great (although I did enjoy the occasional use of horns, and isolated wig out at the end of ‘Ashes’).
The vocals too, are rather laid back and one dimensional, and like most of the instrumentation subtly understated. After a while the absence of colour and shade gets a little wearisome, and despite the accomplished musicianship on display, it’s an album I continually found myself ‘tuning out’ from.
On the other hand, if you wanted some tastefully unobtrusive background music for that socially distanced dinner party, Love could be just the job.
Both albums can be explored on Bandcamp. ***
Review by Pete Whalley
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