(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
I’ve heard of this Atlanta, Georgia based band for years but have never heard their music until now. I must say, this stuff is not bad at all. The band has labeled themselves as a post-progressive rock style and while I’m guessing that means post rock mixed with prog, it is an adequate starting point to describing their sound. There are many elements of classic progressive rock here but thankfully they’re not trying to imitate anyone in particular.
The band consists of Mark Baker on guitars, Phillip Hart on drums and percussion, Jeff Tyson on bass and vocals, and keybaordist Allen Welty-Green. There are many guest appearances on the disc as well, most notably from guitarist Harold Timms (known to members of Prog Ears by his Supersonicscientist screen name) who plays on three tracks and violinist Chip Epstein from Sundog who appears on one tune.
The music is mostly instrumental but there are a few songs with lyrics, the vocals are definitely not the strong element of this band so they are kept to a minimum. There are also a few tracks that have some female spoken word elements and these seem a bit out of place, for example, the first track “Out Of Hand” which has an upbeat modern prog feel which is slowed down by the distracting vocal bit. AWG’s keyboard work is very impressive though. He uses quite an array of different sounds and always keeps the sound fresh. There are a few obligatory mellotron parts but thankfully not too much as to wear out their welcome.
The second track “Whitewater” has sort of an Ozric Tentacles feel with lots of burbling synths and an almost reggae beat in parts. There’s also lots of tinkering around in the percussion department. I think this one is my favorite track on the album, really nice stuff. The multi-part “Too Clever By Half” sounds a lot like something from Gong maybe from You or Angel’s Egg. Things start out really mellow and spacey and by the end of the suite the band is really cooking. There are some nice vocals on this tune. Very much like Daevid Allen in spots.
“The Grey Neighbors” has part of a riff lifted from ELP’s Abadon’s Bolero played on a melodica, I believe. The notes are quite obvious and I noticed it right away. Regardless, it’s a cool little ambient piece with some nice Western flavoring. I can picture the music being used in a desert scene in some film. “Big Bend” continues on with the Western-type theme; great slide guitar stuff, nice ambient sounds and percussion. It’s not quite Ennio Morricone but this stuff would make some great soundtrack material. There are some weird whispered vocal parts near the end that are pretty interesting. The next track, “Dry Land” goes even further with the desert soundtrack stuff. These moody pieces are a really nice touch and quite unusual for a prog band.
This is where things start to fall apart a bit. “She had to go Live With the Lizards” seems like the most ambitious track on the album and it’s also the one that stands out. The main problem I have is with the vocals, which sound like they are drifting in and out of tune. The track starts out with some spoken female parts and when the singing comes in, it’s like a clash. The mood here seems a bit on the murky 80s new wave side. This has the potential to be a really cool song; maybe it will grow on me with time.
“Betrayal” is a short, spacey track with lots of keyboards and echoed whispers. This is a really nice little piece that could have gone on much longer. The next one is called “Put Out The Cat” and they really need somebody that can come up with better song titles! This is an upbeat tune with some great drumming. There’s more of the 80s new wave style here in the drums and bass and with the bubbling Ozrics-type synths it makes for an interesting contrast. The last track ends the album on a little bit of a weak spot. “Columbia Dam” has a soft, new age keyboard melody with a heavy plodding drumbeat that doesn’t help the peaceful atmosphere of the piano. There’s a little bit of flute here but it gets really drowned in the mix.
Overall, despite the flaws that I mentioned, I’ve found myself enjoying this album quite a bit. The keyboards are especially nice for me. As an added bonus there are three video tracks included on the CD. The picture and sound quality aren’t really that good, not sure if this was due to the original source, the file format or maybe a little bit of both. Two of the videos are a little abstract; the one with the dancers is probably the best although all three are hard to watch because of the quality. I think most people who have enhanced CDs don’t even attempt to view the added content anyway. As a whole, Concatenations is a fairly decent album, nothing spectacular but it does contain some nice moments.