Exposé Online banner

ScienceNV — The Quest for Prester John Volume One
((Not on label) , 2018, CD)

ScienceNV — The Quest for Prester John Volume Two
((Not on label) no#, 2018, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2019-03-15

The Quest for Prester John Volume One Cover artThe Quest for Prester John Volume Two Cover artWith three highly-regarded instrumental albums under their collective belt, the sciency guys have taken on one of music’s biggest challenges — the concept album — in a big way. The Quest for Prester John is spread across two volumes, totaling well over an hour and a half of music, and numerous vocalists are featured in compositions centered on the stories, popular in medieval times, of a powerful Christian king in a distant land, maybe Asia, maybe Africa — reports varied. This expansive set of music covers wide stylistic ground, spanning big prog-rock arrangements worthy of Yes or Genesis, angular complexity reminiscent of King Crimson, progressive folk rock like Strawbs or Jethro Tull, meditative near-ambient interludes, and modern chamber music. Modern references might be Deluge Grander, Eccentric Orbit, White Willow, and Wobbler, though ScienceNV’s palette is broader. The scope and variety are nearly overwhelming, enabling the band to avoid tiring the listener out with too much of the same thing. They also manage to be consistent enough to avoid sounding like a compilation of different artists. The writing is consistently intelligent, with occasional touches, mostly in the vocal melodies, that are what I think of as “composerly,” which means that they have a hint of awkwardness that melodies written by a singer would probably avoid. Note that this is not entirely a bad thing, since singers who write melodies often fall into the trap of writing things that sound natural to them but are on the ordinary side. Musicianship is of a very high caliber, especially among the instrumentalists, with a tight rhythm section, excellent guitar work (both acoustic and electric), tons of lovely vintage keyboard parts, and lovely additions for strings and woodwinds here and there. There are a few spots where singers struggle with the challenging parts and come off as somewhat tentative, but it’s not enough the mar the overall impression. Two of the twelve tracks (one on each volume) top the 20 minute mark, being impressive epics in their own rights. For listeners who love the grandeur and power of classic prog but aren’t looking for warmed-over clichés, both volumes on Prester John are essential. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend listening to the whole thing in one sitting — and it’s plenty impressive no matter how you segment it.

Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): ScienceNV

More info
http://www.sciencenv.com/buy.htm

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hermes Orchestra - Live – Dan Hermes is a jack-of-all-trades and music is just one of his passions. On this album professionally trained musicians play the compositions of Dan Hermes. All this was performed live at the Tremont...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues