08 April 2016 (released)
03 June 2016
We've all been guilty of it. Listening to the first minute of the first song of an album and making a snap judgement of whether to become a lifelong fan or toss it in the proverbial trash. With the deluge of new music that comes across my desk every day, I'm sure that I'm more guilty than most. Despite my best efforts, there is just not enough time in the day to give everything a proper listen.
A Temporary Human Experience, the new album from Buffalo, NY group Turning Virtue is definitely one of those albums that might have looked over had I just checked out the first song or two. Letting the album unfold, I was pleasantly surprised. Once the band drops the rock single pretense, the record becomes an impressive narrative sewn together by the mesmerizing guitar of Carl Cino. For this album, the group hired legendary producer Tim Palmer. (Porcupine Tree, Pearl Jam, U2, David Bowie, Robert Plant) to help craft their sound.
The album opener does have its moments. A half-time guitar solo and curious background ambience raise some intrigue but the soft chorus suggests perhaps a complacent album to come. The following number 'These Things' furthers the trend with an adult contemporary vibe.
Where I might have normally ditched the record, I pressed on and after the first two commercial ditties, the album gets darker. Taking more time to lay out its story, the rest of the album plays like a connected piece. Cino is fully let loose on 'Box of Disappointment' with the band following him at a ceaseless pace. 'Random' echoes the listless tempo of fellow progressive act Porcupine Tree, dragging its feet through the cosmos in a kind of philosophical blues.
Vocalist Davey K's softer vocals seem a better fit in the swaying ballad 'Dreamin' which also delivers the kind of soaring lyrical guitar lead that seems to elude other players of that caliber who are too busy emulating a hive of bees with relentless guitar sweeps. Cino definitely has the chops but he has the patience to play to the song on this tune in particular. 'Theody' is a definite highlight late in the album with its doomsday priest intro and unabashed prog riffing.
It's unclear whether the two opening tracks were put there on the insistence of their seasoned producer or if it seemed like the natural choice at the time but for my money you could chop the first two tracks off the album and it would be a solid prog rock gem. Definitely worth sticking around for the duration.