Generation Prog (label)
01 January 2021 (released)
08 January 2021
It has taken me quite a while to fully get ‘into’ this second album from THEO but it has finally worked its way into my ears and proved itself rather wonderful.
The band consist of Jim Alfredson on keys & vocals, Gary Davenport on Chapman Stick & fretless bass, Kevin DePree on drums & percussion and Jake Reichbart & Tom MacLean on guitars and together they have made an album that is intense, melodic, occasionally aggressive and deeply musical.
Four tracks, all with very different identities, the album opens with ‘Pathology’. Gentle piano phrases play over chirping birdsong samples while the drums and guitar gently come into view and then – suddenly – a massive fuzzed riff leads to severely distorted vocals and hammerblow drumming. In a moment you are blasted back from your reverie by an assault on the ears. It has some touches of Yes and King Crimson in the change of tack but you find yourself carried by the quality of the playing, Tom MacLean of guitar is superb. When the power gives way to some melodic keys it almost seems to lift the track into another sphere. A piece that is worth revisiting many times.
‘Man Of Action’ has a Floyd-like presence, starting with sampled “USA” chants, the number continues via a wonderfully fluid bass line from Davenport and a Hammond riff that brings you into Alfredson’s vocals – clearly a statement on Donald Trump and his idiom, it is powerful and chilling at once.
‘The Garden’ takes us into a more contemplative space headed by piano and a beautiful bass line behind keening vocals. Originally titled ‘The Lover’ (it appears) the listener is taken on a tour through the garden as a lover might. The song has a mesmeric quality to the playing and it is easy to bask in the aural sunlight.
Finally, the album closes on ‘Portents & Providence’ and we are back into more common and classic Prog fare. Vaunting keyboards and guitars over a stuttering drumbeat, melodic segments and portions and clearly defined movements in the number.
It is a superb album, one of the best Prog albums of last year but one that takes time to get your head fully around. The quality of the musicianship is remarkable and the writing is of a very high standard.