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(56:37, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Bullets in the Barrell 7:12 2. Living in Hard Times 7:58 3. Building Blocks 4:49 4. The Feather 5:28 5. One in a Bar 7:29 6. Surface Tension 6:55 7. Promise the Moon 6:38 8. Still Looking for the Answers 6:07 9. The Torch 3:59 LINEUP: Bob Madsen bass Brian Cline vocals; guitars Kenny Steel guitars; keyboards With: Dave Weckl drums Nick D'Virgilio drums Jimmy Keegan drums Leah Hume backing vocals Molly Roth backing vocals
Prolusion. The US outfit 41POINT9 is yet another band issuing their debut album in 2011. Experienced hands make up the core of this ensemble: fans of Enchant will most likely appreciate that Brian Cline makes up one-third of the core of this unit. "Still Looking for the Answers", their debut album, was released by the US label Progrock Records.
Analysis. Bands displaying a good sense of humor are always a welcome experience. In this case the combination of band name and album name will give many ardent science fiction fans a good laugh (the answer is 42 after all), and those who buy the album will find some nice tongue-in-cheek band biographies to savor amidst the myriad of references to the pseudo-science feline butterology a lot of fun, in other words. The ardent progressive rock fan might find those aspects of the CD to be the most interesting, however. And while performance and production are excellent throughout (nothing to fault the band for on those scores for most music fans), the material at hand is of a much less adventurous nature. Mainstream rock with art rock aspirations might be a good description. The compositions are fairly straightforward affairs, where the main ingredient exhibiting any degree of sophistication being the arrangements. Fluent and fluctuating, the main approach appears to be to go from dampened, sparsely-instrumented verse parts to richly-layered, refined arrangements for the chorus section. A few inserts and breaks do appear along the way, but by and large this is material with a foot and a half placed well inside the mainstream rock universe. Wandering light-toned guitars and occasional dark-toned, dampened riffs for contrast combine nicely with dampened, funk-tinged bass and gentle hovering keyboards. And in the limelight for all vocal parts, of which there are many, the pleasant voice of Brian Cline. The instrumental parts savor careful melodies and subtle details over masterly escapades and instrument runs, while the token instrumental at hand, Surface Tension, tends to emphasize the role of the bass guitar in a sophisticated rock environment rather than utilizing this piece to showcase a general compositional and instrumental finesse. My overall impression is that this act comes across as something of a mainstream-oriented version of fellow US act Man On Fire more than anything else. The bass guitar shares similar traits, as do the lead vocals and the arrangements in general, but all along in a much more careful manner and in compositions of a less sophisticated nature, structurally speaking. If Man On Fire can be described as a fair representation of an art rock band vying for a mainstream audience, 41Point9 appears to be a mainstream rock band vying for an art rock audience extremely well-made as such admittedly.
Conclusion. 41Point9 has made itself a fine debut album, sporting excellent performances throughout on a CD that also features high quality mix and production. Musically they have opted to venture outside of the progressive rock universe to express their ideas, and as such their reach among that fan base will be limited. Those who enjoy bands like Man On Fire and don't mind music a notch or two further removed from the art rock universe should make up the core audience for this fine CD, which is one I imagine will find favor amongst many, in particular amongst those generally fond of sophisticated, mainstream rock.
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