Active Heed — Visions from Realities
((Not on label) no#, 2013, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-10-10It's been a while since an album struck me so divergently as Active Heed's full-length debut. The opening track, "Flying Like a Fly," while sonically pleasant to listen to, has lyrics that at first seemed like really awkward English written by a non-native speaker. "Flying like a fly / Like if it was my very first flight, / Floating on the floor / In this sunny day." Then I was strongly reminded of Flight of the Conchords — as a parody of pretentious prog-rock lyrics, it works pretty well. The problem with that theory is that on the whole, Visions from Reality seems like a serious work, which puts me back to the first impression. Setting aside the lyrics for a moment, the music is melodic and varied enough to avoid stagnation, with all the players acquitting themselves admirably. Acoustic guitar forms the base of most of the songs, sometimes lending an jangly mood reminiscent of R.E.M., sometimes leaning more to the Classical nylon-string sound. Umberto Pagnini's compositions are nicely arranged by Lorenzo Poli, who handles a lot of the instruments himself; Pellek (Per Fredrik Åsly) contributes the lead vocals; others handle drums and backing vocals. Pellek has a very nice voice, strong when it needs to be, delicate when that's called for, and his accented pronunciation only occasionally mars the listener's experience. The vocal lines are often very "composerly" — giving the impression of having been written on paper without too much consideration of how they would sound in performance: the accents often come at very awkward places in the phrases, and many parts include rapid rhythms that Pellek struggles to keep up with. But don't let these factors deter you — if you're a fan of melodic symphonic prog without rough edges, this is a very enjoyable set of music, an admirable accomplishment.
Related artist(s): Active Heed
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more