Perfect Beings — Perfect Beings
(My Sonic Temple mst_1401, 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-02-18
As far as band names go, this is a hard one to live up to, even if we all had the same idea of perfection. That said, this Southern California five-piece packs an impressive punch on their first time out, combining a lot of familiar flavors from the worlds of prog, pop, and rock into something new, yet informed by a fifty year history of rock’s evolution from the mid-60s to the present. The band is led by multi-instrumentalists Ryan Hurtgen and Johannes Luley, who also share the majority of the compositions. Hurtgen (primarily lead vocalist and keyboardist) is a Nashville transplant with some solo albums to his credit, as well as recordings under the pseudonym René Breton (which performs live as a four-piece band). Luley (primarily the band’s guitarist) we know from his solo album Tales from Sheepfather’s Grove, as well as his previous band Moth Vellum. The band is rounded out by drummer Dicki Fliszar, bassist Chris Tristram, and keyboardist Jesse Nason, who also shares backing vocals with Luley and Fliszar. The opening track, “Canyon Hill,” sets the stage with a McCartney-esque composition featuring supporting multi-part harmonies that would have fit nicely into the first Klaatu album from 1976, launching directly into the harder rocking “Helicopter” with its shifting arrangements and Steve Howe-like steel guitar figures. “Removal of the Identity Chip” is primarily an instrumental excursion, strongly Yes influenced with some unusual futuristic lyrics, while “Fiction” fuses wonderful multi-part harmonies into an arrangement that could be referencing equal parts 10cc and late-70s Yes. “Remnants of Shields” explores a more acoustic based arrangement that might have fit nicely on Luley’s solo album, but it’s Hurtgen’s vocals that power the tune. “Walkabout” is another acoustic based piece, that finds plenty of changes, vocal harmonies and stylistic shifts over its near ten minute duration, often launching into some powerful instrumental sections with solo spots, other times moving into introspective textural settings reminiscent of the quieter moments of early-70s Genesis. Each one of the ten tracks here is all-around superb, and perfect enough, I’m sure most would agree.
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more