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Eyestrings (USA) - 2004 - "Burdened Hands"
(66 min, 'Split Difference')


1.  Recovery 10:00
2.  Itchy Tickler 4:05
3.  Dead Supermen 6:37
4.  Anachronism 5:42
5.  Funnel 4:28
6.  Just a Body 4:59
7.  Slackjaw 8:45
8.  Nothing 5:09
9.  Time Will Tell 3:36
10. Empty Box 12:37

All music & lyrics: by Ryan Parmenter.


Ryan Parmenter - vocals; keyboards; trombone
Alan Rutter - guitars; backing vocals
Mathew Kennedy - bass guitar; Moog
Bob Young - drums & percussion

Produced by Eyestrings.
Engineered by Eyestrings & B. Ridley.

Prolusion. "Burdened Hands" is the debut album by Eyestrings. Formed by vocalist and keyboardist Ryan Parmenter, the nephew of >Discipline's Matthew Parmenter, and guitarist Alan Rutter, this Michigan-based band features also two very mature musicians: Mathew Kennedy and Bob Young. By the way, both of the bosses of rhythm section are also former members of >Discipline.

Synopsis. Above all, I think I should note that all the music and lyrics on the album are issued from Ryan's pen. In the CD press kit are listed the bands and performers which exerted the strongest influence on the young Parmenter and his formation as a musician and composer: The Beatles, Genesis, Yes, etc. All in all, none of them are from the Jazz-Fusion camp, while the said genre is the most substantial constituent of the band's style. That special feature of the music on "Burdened Hands", as well as the complexity of it, will hardly strike your eye (or ear) at the first acquaintance with the album. Nevertheless, this is the fact, even if it isn't as immediately evident as those 'confirming' the high originality and attractiveness of this music. All ten of the songs here, without exception, have a highly unique, clearly innovative Jazz-Fusion in their basis, which, however, is often obscured by dense, Progressive Cathedral Metal-related textures, and especially on Anachronism and Time Will Tell (4 & 9). The songs Recovery, Funnel, Slackjaw, and Empty Box (1, 5, 7, & 10) are also rich in harsh arrangements and heavy guitar riffs. These six are the best tracks on the album, and the latter two are just superbly intricate and, thus, are my favorites. At least on the whole, Itchy Tickler and Just a Body (2 & 6) are in the same vein as the described songs, though there are less heavy elements and are a lot of those of some old-fashioned music arousing some associations with Queen. Apart from the aforementioned two genres, the album's predominant stylistics includes also some quantity of elements of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock provided mainly by the Mellotron-like solos and passages of Moog. However, most of the parts of central soloing instruments, starting with an electric piano, have a definite jazzy feel to them, even though it's clear that they've been thoroughly composed. The band amazingly easily and masterfully works with sinuous, constantly twisting instrumental arrangements, including those going along with vocals, and they are almost throughout here. Besides, it seems these guys can't bear any measures but those exclusively odd, complex, and even bowed (when some parts are done out of measure). Some abundance of the vocal parts on an opening track and a few others is somewhat a counterpoise to the intricacy of the instrumental parts on them and especially those featuring very few vocals. It's like Ariadne's thread for the impatient listener leading him to the quicker comprehension of the essence of this very eventful music. The remaining two tracks: Dead Supermen and Nothing (3 & 8) aren't masterpieces, unlike others. The stylistics they've done in is still unique and is somewhat of a symphonic Art-Fusion, though these are ballads rather than songs. The first of them is better and contains two brilliant instrumental parts, but those of vocal represent the endless alternation of couplets and refrains in both cases. As for Nothing, I am inclined to think that this thing got an appropriate title, at least in some ways. The inclusion of it in the album was unnecessary, especially counting that it is 66 minutes in duration.

Conclusion. Nevertheless, my overall attitude towards this album is more than merely positive, and those few minor flaws just cannot impair it. Surely, my CD player will often be burdened with "Burdened Hands". Highly recommended.

VM: February 3, 2004

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