Perfect Beings — Perfect Beings II
(My Sonic Temple MST-1501, 2015, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-04-02
With their first album, the Southern California band Perfect Beings set a very high bar for themselves, with a sophisticated take on modern progressive rock superbly informed by the genre’s history but not devoted to repeating it. I’m happy to report that the follow-up is in no way a letdown. “Mar del Fuego” jumps out of the gate with a blast somewhat reminiscent of classic Yes. The guitar work is outstanding, blending some Howe-isms with some very original touches. Vocals only appear in the last few moments of the track, leading us into “Cryogenia,” which feels almost like the next section of a suite rather than a freestanding composition. It’s a slow-paced, dramatic vocal number, and leads into a brief electronic interlude before the album’s longest track, “The Love Inside.” The beautiful and sometimes elaborate vocal arrangements remind me of early Ambrosia and 10cc, though Perfect Beings stray much further from pop song structures than either of those bands. There are also whiffs of the first couple Klaatu albums, though without the orchestral elements. When you add the quality of the instrumental arrangements to the great vocals, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches. Aside from the previously mentioned guitar work, keyboards are quite prominent, balancing modern and vintage sounds seamlessly. The chordal patches have rich tones, and there are some very nice lead parts, sometimes sounding like a mutated Minimoog – it’s like they took Rick Wakeman at his wildest and ran it through the audio equivalent of a set of funhouse mirrors. Perfect Beings, when considered alongside The Aaron Clift Experiment, Ampledeed, Ovrfwrd, and a few others, affirm the strength of the newest generation of American progressive rock, and show that the old horse, far from being dead, is ready to hit the track.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.