The recent passing of a loved one brings up lots of weird feelings that make you forget your duties. After traveling to my grandma’s funeral, I find myself spending the weekend in my parents home with out my computer or access to my articles which are supposed to get published for this edition of Bite-size Prog (whoops!). I had my reviews for what I consider a truly fabulous slew of Progstreaming albums, including at least two by the wonderful Fabio Zuffanti, mostly ready to go before leaving on my trip, but to my chagrin, I’m sitting here on the couch realizing I didn’t bring the files. That’s how life goes sometimes, I suppose. Instead, I present you an even shorter than normally short edition of what would have been next week’s edition of Bite-size and advise you to get your mind blown listening to all of Zuffanti’s projects as you prepare for next week’s reviews. Good luck!
Phi – For the Love of Ghosts
Having to categorize and recategorize a particular band a number of times throughout an album can be a good thing. As I listed to Phi’s For the Love of Ghosts, it was interesting how the style of music didn’t really change, but the big picture, what they were trying to do with their album, with their vision, became clearer and clearer as the album progressed, without there being radical changese in style. The initial grit of the guitars that opens “The Surgical Cut” initially made me think it would just be another rock band, but as the synths begin to flesh out and the turn becomes more melodic and vocal oriented there was something I could really latch onto. Honestly I’m not sure what. The singer’s voice is a voice that in another context I could see myself not liking, however it fits perfectly with Phi’s sound. It’s somewhat somber, not forcing itself at you, but the sort of introspective aspect of it when combined with the composition brings you in and makes it very likeable. I would like to say that Phi seems to avoid having the semblance of pretension. I never get the impression like they’re trying to impress you. Indeed, they are not a flashy band, but neither do they come across as one of these hipster bands that thinks they’re doing something artistic or innovative, but in reality they just suck at playing music and somehow think that makes them experimental. I would almost at times say that they have a slight prog metal mentality, which seems to become very apparent around the middle of the album; however they are not nearly heavy enough to really be considered metal, in my opinion. What Phi offers is really good songs that are catchy, melodic, and groove great. They’re not really worried about being a ‘heavy’ band, a soft band, an ambitious band, or even a ‘proggy’ band. Of course, they have elements of all these things in there. With For the Love of Ghosts being a debut, Phi proves themselves to be an already mature band with good potential for growth.
Jack Du Fon – Bascule a Vif
Bascule a Vif immediately made me think of the classic 70’s albums by Emmanuel Booz. In other words, it sounds very, very French, and super eclectic. The vocals are frantic, pulverizing, and chanty, while the music is violently rhythmic and at times repetitive, although never redundant because of the way in which the band constantly builds the level of intensity in maniac fashion. I would say that Jack Dupon is a noisey band, but in a way that you’ll love; their RIO aesthetic and sheer energy is contagious. While , Bascule a Vif isn’t an album I would find myself putting on every day, it’s one of those that you can pull out and enjoy a few moments of radical brain alteration, and then go on with your day. If you’re particulary a fan of a French bands like Magma or Booz, I’m sure you’ll love this.
Lyrian – The Tongue of Angels and Man
Skirting the edges of classic 70’s prog and neoprog, The Tongue of Angels and Men delivers a very thoughtful journey into a theatrical world of music. What initially caught my attention about this album was heavy blend of early Crimson and Genesis with loads of theatricality and a strong bardic approach. The presentation of music and lyrics really made me feel like an intended listener, as if the band were presenting itself to me directly. John blakes jester like vocals, while far from refined, are thoroughly narrative in their sound. He comes across as a very interesting vocalist, in my opinion; his tone is thin and his voice is feelbe, but in such a way to where its got a creepy vibe and carries with it the menacing sincerity of an old man telling you a haunting and ancient truth in a dark room. In terms of the instrumental performances, Lyrian’s music is not the virtuoso type at all, but they offer a pretty enjoyable prog rock palette which includes pipe organs and synthesized woodwinds, always presented in ways that obviously and unashamedly avoid anything close to a modern rock sound. In the end, Lyrian delivers an album with a sound that seeks to take you back to more ancient worlds while maintaing a sound which very, very British. While some of the instrumental sections can be a bit long winded at times without offering strong instrumental hooks or flash, the extremely enjoyable vocals and narrative make the album worth a listen. Not a masterpiece, but a solid effort.