(All Album Reviews by Ursula)
Sometimes it makes one wonder what a “band” is hoping for when submitting an album to a page like PE for reviewing when the album in question is clearly not 'prog'. Even the most open-minded prog fan can be expected to be 'tunnel viewed' while roaming the review section in a search for more delightful, prog thirst-quenching albums.
Yes... but isn't there still the open-mindedness, though temporarily shoveled to the back of our heads, yet still influential? Let's drag it out, switch to OT mode and indulge this album for a few moments, shall we? ;)
To combine music and poetry is nothing new as the likes of Iain Banks/ Gary Lloyd or John Cooper Clarke/ Martin Hannett demonstrated so successfully. Where Moving To The Moment differs from the latter work is that it uses no punk era music and features the output of five lyricists instead of one.
In fact the emphasis of this album clearly lies on the spoken words by various authors, something that is supported by the liner notes in which the lyricists are all named, yet on the side of the musicians only the composer and one guitar player are credited. The music touches slightly on a wide range of American music styles, from folk via space to new age with a slight nod to MTV endorsed music styles, with smooth jazz and blues prevailing. The album also contains three music only songs but unfortunately these fail to grab the heart because they are in the same ilk as the rest of the album's music, which is basically building a framework for the spoken words thus taking on the character of a soundtrack. That in itself is certainly nothing negative and opens up the question of how music and words interact and support each other.
At first listening it seems cleverly done but with repeated listening this effect quickly wore off because the impact of the unknown had largely contributed to keep up my interest. The album has certainly its moments where the melody of words is mirrored in the music and it is easy to see that the authors of this album have put a great care into the composition. Yet in parts the music is too much like the music one finds on meditation CDs, merely repetitive and not keeping up the tension that the poems might have created.
The lyrics are concerned with US specific subjects, giving the album in places a kind of road movie feel. To me it was only initially interesting in so far as it concerns the culture handed down to me by Hollywood and other media imperiums, a curious item to be shelved again when the amazement wears off. So I asked my hubby, who likes poetry as much as I like my prog, what he thinks and this is what he came up with:
Take a slice of Jack Kerouac nearing the end of his downward spiral, add a large hint of Laurie Anderson without the humour or inventiveness, and you have this “performance art” compilation of music and verse which is more like it's 60's ancestor “The Happening”. Ersatz jazz era, Beat Generation type stuff. Strangely out of place is the exquisite, haunting “Church Poem” by Jess Graf.
As a prog head who is used to listening to tone poems of intriguing complexity I can't recommend this album simply for the lack of music; but if one likes a change ever so often from the self-indulgent musicianship and enjoys poetry it could be worth a try.