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A Lonely Crowd - 2016 - "Devil in the Detail"

(27:45, Bird's Robe Records)


TRACK LIST:                 

1. Free Fall 6:27
2. Elevate 3:26
3. Electric Sheep 0:28
4. Sun Bail 2:42
5. Re-Rez RAM 0:50
6. Taken Over 3:41
7. The Owls are Not what they Seem 1:10
8. Fire Away 3:01
9. Devil in the Detail 1:04
10. All the Colours 4:56


Luke Ancell - guitars, piano
Scott Ancell - drums, percussion, programming
Xen Havales - vocals
Lachlan Kirkbright - bass

Prolusion. Australian band A LONELY CROWD was formed sometime around 2008, and from their base in Melbourne they were an active live and recording unit for almost a decade. During their span they released three albums before going on hiatus in the fall of 2016. The mini album "Devil in the Detail" was released in the summer of 2016, and was released through the label Bird's Robe Records.

Analysis. This Australian band were a novel unit in the realm of progressive rock. Primarily because I rather suspect they may have had more impact outside of the regular progressive rock fan base, as well as the cause for my suspicions in that direction: That this is a band that blends and plays around with certain genre details not all that encountered within a progressive rock context. A certain touch of jazz flows through all the bona fide songs on this CD. First and foremost in the vocals department, as singer Havales has that floating, flowing vocal style many will associate with female jazz vocalists, but also in some instrument details here and there and then acoustic guitars in particular. A more prominent feature are arrangements and instrument deliveries that are rather closer to alternative rock and arguably even grunge than what most progressive rock bands would normally take on. This goes for both the riff driven passages as well as the acoustic and semi-acoustic parts: Most of the songs on this production alternates between these three main choices of arrangements. Other than that, we are also treated to a more defined jazz-oriented escapade here, in the shape of the stripped down piano and vocals cut Fire Away, complete with some sweet vocal harmonies, as well as a number of shorter interludes that range from electronic noises and atmospheric laden, dramatic effects to a gently wandering piano piece with more of a classical music orientation. The progressive rock aspect of this production, apart from the sheer variety that might be seen as progressive in itself, it is the manner in which the longer songs here ebb and fall and move back and forth that makes this album one that resides within this context rather than in alternative or indie rock. The songs are often quirky, and subtly challenging to boot, with a liberal amount oc changes and alterations in pace, intensity and arrangements. Hence progressive rock, but of a rather different flavor than many other bands out there.

Conclusion. If it turns out that "Devil in the Detail" is the literal swansong of A Lonely Crowd, they go out in a good way. While the shorter interludes mainly are a bit so-so to my ears, the longer compositions here showcase a skilled band that have found their own particular niche to explore by pairing off style and genre elements that to my mind at least will have been rather challenging to combine. One to seek out for those that tends to enjoy progressive rock that is a bit out of left field.

Progmessor: July 15th, 2018
The Rating Room

Related Links:

A Lonely Crowd

Bird's Robe Records


ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages