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(53:24, The Aaron Clift Experiment)
TRACK LIST: 1. Faith 4:51 2. Last Crash 5:29 3. Absent Lovers 8:15 4. Better off Before 3:08 5. Castle in the Sky 4:33 6. Savage in a Fancy Suit 4:43 7. Dream within a Dream 7:58 8. Wild Hunters 2:52 9. If All Goes Wrong 5:34 10. Back to the Water 5:01 LINEUP: Aaron Clift - vocals, keyboards Devin North - bass, guitars Tim Smith - drums, percussion With: Dave North - guitars Van Wilks - guitars Derek Halfmann - guitars Dave Sebree - guitars Fred Springer - guitars Arielle - guitars, backing vocals Kevin Chin - guitars Jon Blangero - mellotron Milo Hehmsoth - piano Charles Anderson - violin Lana Dziekonski - viola Ellie Prager - cello
Prolusion. US band THE AARON CLIFT EXPERIMENT has been a going venture ever since 2012, mainly revolving around the talents of main man Aaron Clift, with an ever growing cast of guest musicians and more or less permanent band members getting some history with the band. "If All Goes Wrong" is their third album, and was self-released in 2018.
Analysis. It is a good thing to see new progressive rock bands emerging, and even better to encounter one that doesn't seek out one specific path to follow at that. Aaron Clift and his experiment is an interesting band in such a context, as they look both back and sideways for inspiration. Their sound and expression is more of a vintage oriented one however, and as such I suspect they will find themselves an audience attracted to the sounds of yesteryear. This isn't a band that seeks out to go full out progressive rock either. As a one off, the opening cut "Faith" brings in some southern rock and blues rock vibes to the proceedings for starters, another one off affair brings the likes of The Beatles to mind, possibly with a slight touch of Madness for good measure. We get the occasional journey into more AOR-oriented waters as well, and the CD edition of this production actually concludes with a good, old fashioned piano ballad as well. There is a fair bit of progressive rock to enjoy too of course. Sometimes with arrangements and sounds that makes it difficult to ignore the possible inspirations from the likes of Camel and Genesis, at other times going in rather different directions where the nods towards possible heroes of yesteryear isn't as easy to pin down. We get what might or might not be an accidental nod towards late 70's Al Di Meola here as well, and on one of the highlights of this CD the pace slows down a bit for a guitar and organ driven affair that contains trace elements of Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. I'd wager a bet that for many, this particular little number will be high on the list of personal favorites from this album. For me, the romantic ballad that goes prog of the title track, complete with Mellotron textures, is the standout cut here however. Perhaps not the proggiest of affairs, but in my view the song where the band and their various guests creates the most striking and compelling total experience here. Drawbacks for me is that this album is also lacking the finesse and details that makes it a standout production. It is good in general, with small glimpses of brilliance that adds value to the listening experience, but my main impression is that this album is one step and a journey towards a goal rather than a document from a band that have crossed the finishing line and now needs to fine tune the smaller details of their accomplishments.
Conclusion. The Aaron Clift Experiment as of 2018 comes across as something or a rough diamond as far as progressive rock is concerned. They play around with boundaries, borders and expectations a bit, without loosing track of the progressive rock playing field as such. It isn't what I'd describe as the finished article though, but it documents the skills and efforts of a band with the potential to become just that. A band to place on the watch list, and an album recommended to those who find great joy in encountering bands of this general nature.
Progmessor: August 29th, 2018
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