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A. Plot - 2017 - "Secrets Of The Rabbit Hole"

(130:02; Royal Mushroom Records)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. The Catbird Seat 6:23
2. Bright Blue Day 7:28
3. A Faint Transmission 8:19
4. The Ice Parade 7:31
5. Sungazer 6:28
6. Jesus Don't Live Here No More 5:34
7. Before the War 6:02
8. The Frankenstein in You 5:08
9. Three Little Red Men 5:30
10. Fear of Underwater Thunder 8:27
11. Flags 5:23
12. This Tidy Little War 5:36
13. The Royal Mushroom 6:13
14. Rivers of Roses 6:28
15. Into the Night 5:49
16. This City Alive 5:54
17. The People in Gray 7:27
18. None But the Mighty 11:01
19. Much Later 9:21


Kevin Young - vocals, guitars
Neale Brassell - keyboards
Sam Prather - bass
Scott Prather - drums, percussion
Dave Ducey - drums

Prolusion. US project A. Plot can trace its roots back to the start of the 1980's, when main men Neale Brassell and Kevin Young formed the band and had a thing going for a bit before life happened and A. Plot went on an extended hiatus. But in 2014 the creative duo started working together again, with two double albums being recorded and released in a fairly quick succession starting with "Lipstick Smears & War Machines" in 2015. "Secrets Of The Rabbit Hole" is the second and most recent of these productions, and was released on the band's own label Royal Mushroom Records at the start of 2017.

Analysis. A. Plot is a band that one might describe as having a bit more of a tentative placement inside the progressive rock universe, where the music often is more art pop or art rock than progressive rock in a sense, or music with more of a regular pop/rock foundation but with an intent and an orientation towards progressive rock you might say. In other words it is a distinctly accessible variety of progressive rock we get here, and one with a solid crossover appeal towards what critics like me will describe as the mainstream music scene. The most striking feature for me for this album as a whole is that it comes across as very much an enthusiast creation. The mix and production isn't quite at the level I like, with the separation of instruments being a bit unclear with a smooth coating applied throughout that does create a more appealing soundscape but also makes the individual instruments blur together ever so slightly. The overall sound has much more of an indie feel to it as well, so while the songs are mixed in a fairly smooth manner they aren't polished, resulting in a listening experience that strikes me as having a lot of an 80's pop music feel to it. The compositions also makes me think of pop music more often than not, with Phil Collins earlier solo material and the poppier side of Peter Gabriel often coming to mind. The songs will often be fairly simple in terms of structure, steady going affairs without too much development in terms of structure and with fairly stable arrangements throughout as well. We do get fluctuating instrument textures and transitions between a couple of different phases, but not in a more marked and distinct manner as is often the case for a more purebred progressive rock band. The tendencies are much more towards Collins 'In the Air Tonight' than they are towards Genesis 'Dancing With the Moonlit Knight', to put it that way. A. Plot will step into more atmospheric laden landscapes that incorporates elements from neo-progressive rock though, and when exploring moods a bit darker there are certainly tendencies towards Gilmour-era Pink Floyd too, and some flirts in the direction of post-punk is a part of the experience here too. More often than not these tendencies are explored inside of a context and a framework with more of a mainstream pop/rock orientation, as previously described. The length of the songs have more in common with progressive rock though, but I'm not sure if that is a good thing in this case. This will obviously depend on individual taste, but for me at least I do think that many of the compositions lack enough substantial content to manage to retain interest all the way through. A. Plot are skilled at creating compelling melodies and atmospheres, which is a strong point of the band. But for me at least the songs lack the ingredients that makes them suitable for deeper listening. As an album experience this is the kind of music that would be a good choice to have as music to listen to while driving somewhere, but not an album I'd choose to pick out if I were to sit down with a good cup of coffee and listen to music with a more focused intent.

Conclusion. "Secrets of the Rabbit Hole" is a competent production that explore music with a bit of progressive rock intent and orientation. The style and focus appears to be closer to the more pop-oriented escapades of artists such as Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel as well as radio friendly pop/rock however, but with a little bit of an art rock swagger and attitude. The album as a whole is a bit too anonymous for my taste in music, but for those with a more passionate interest in this specific type of material than what I have this might be an interesting production to get more familiar with.

Progmessor: March 2023
The Rating Room

Related Links:

A. Plot


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