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(45:51, The Lost Records)
Prolusion. “Revolution’s Son” is the debut release by AUDIOCRACY – basically a duo of Tobin Mueller and Twon, both of whom are from the States. In fact, however, this is a virtual studio combo, since all the other participants live far from each other, Darren Chapman and Tadashi Tagawa hailing from Canada and Japan, respectively.
TRACK LIST: 1. Revolution’s Son 6:43 2. Puzzle City 3:17 3. Escape Into the Fray Zone 10:47 4. Speak Truth to Power 4:29 5. Gethsemane Again 5:29 6. When the Future Comes 8:00 7. Dare to Sing 6:58 LINEUP: Tobin Mueller – organ, keyboards; drums; vocals Twon – lead vocals; bass With: Darren Chapman – el. guitar (1, 3, 4, 7) Bob Piper – el. guitar (2, 6) Rob Thurman – drums (6) Scott Rockenfield – drums (2) Tadashi Tagawa – ac. guitar (7)
Analysis. It’s for the first time in my life that I hear a rock music-related recording that’s literally flooded with vocals. On four of the disc’s seven tracks only Twon is credited as a vocalist (otherwise along with Tobin), but all of them without exception sound like there are a dozen singers involved, trying to outvoice each other, shouting down almost everything that happens behind them, generally speaking. I don’t care a straw about the quantity of vocal overdubs here, but I clearly hear that the mix in most cases suffers from the choirs being too loud compared to the instruments, which is bad, as there are some interesting moves behind the vocal scenes. However, besides the leisurely, balladic closing piece Dare to Sing, only the first two tracks, Revolution’s Son and Puzzle City, are more or less cohesive throughout, meaning on their instrumental level. The music here reminds me mostly of a cross between the Rabin-era Yes (think the epic title track of “Talk”) and early Magellan, but with a lesser sense of logicality to it. As for the vocal palette, it’s overall much of the same essence on most of the tracks, and I see it as a badly blended (as well as delivered) cocktail of a wide variety of voices and harmonies of which, though, still prevail those referring to the two aforesaid bands, at the same periods of their works. “Interesting design and poor realization” would be an apt epigraph for each of those three songs, while if I were going to use that phrase regarding the rest of the material it would be already an epitaph. Some of Twon’s voices work, the others sound like he’s pushing, overstraining himself, and even worse to say the least. Popping up as if from nowhere, often discordant, at times even coming across as being out of tune, the many vocal lines that form the chorals here are often so tangled that it’s really tough to get past them, which strongly impedes me in comprehending the story by ear. (Well, after I’ve read the lyrics in the booklet I found them to be artificially complicated rather than truly sophisticated). That being said, the same picture pursues me everywhere on the disc’s vocal angle, but it’s on the core four tracks where it is especially intolerable – probably because the instrumental parts of those pieces are often far-fetched, eclectically-chaotic in nature too. Besides, there are also moments of pure randomness where abstraction seems to exist for the sake of itself, without arousing associations with, say, post-modernism, unlike the recent creations of Random Touch for instance. At their most cohesive, Escape into the Fray Zone and Gethsemane Again are reminiscent of Keep It Dark from “Abacab” as well as some other Genesis ‘80s experiments with electronics, both only utilizing programmed drums as their rhythmic axis. Speak Truth to Power is basically Hard Rock, surprisingly straight and unstructured at once. When the Future Comes is the only track here whose vocal and instrumental contents both merge into a unified palette, imitating Peter Gabriel-when-keen-on-Africa, roughly speaking, i.e. “III, “IV”, Biko and so on. Of the three drummers participating, Tobin included, only Queensryche’s Scott Rockenfield shows himself as a truly masterful battery commander, providing some highly impressive beats on ‘his’ piece, Puzzle City.
Conclusion. For me, “Revolution’s Son” is a sort of endless sea of voices full of vocal extravaganza, to put it mildly. Twon and Tobias are talented lyricists who, however, need to hold in their fount of eloquence and give more attention to the music as such instead if they are going to rise above their current sad state.
VM: Agst 12, 2008